- ICC: Appeals Chamber Confirms The Pre-Trial Chamber’s Decision On The Approach To Admit Victims To Participate In The Proceedings
- ECtHR: Failure To Protect Domestic Abuse Victim From Cyberviolence In Volodina v. Russia
- ECtHR: Pre-Trial Detention Of Mayor Of Siirt, Turkey On Account Of His Activities And Statements
- KSC: First Trial Of Salih Mustafa For War Crimes Opens
- ECtHR: Court Rejects Request For An Advisory Opinion On Biomedicine Treaty
- ICC: Pre-Trial Chamber I Authorises An Investigation Into The Situation In The Philippines
- IRMCT: Court Schedules A Status Conference in The Félicien Kabuga’s Case
- ICJ: Armenia Institutes Proceedings Against Azerbaijan And Requests Provisional Measures
- Serbia: Court Grants Vukovar Victims’ Families Compensation
- Denmark: Radoslav Brdjanin Sent Back To The Hague Custody
INTERNATIONAL PEACE and SECURITY SECTION
- IAEA: The UN Atomic Watchdog Reached An Agreement With Iran On Monitoring Of Nuclear Programme
- South Sudan: Cash Shortage Triggers Food Suspensions For 100,000 Displaced
- UNITAMS: Responding To Evolving Needs In Sudan Transition Process
- WFP: First Humanitarian Flight To Kabul Marks ‘Turning Point’ In Crisis
- Syria: After Ten Years Of War, Siege Tactics Still Threaten Civilians
- UN: Despite Progress In Reducing Cluster Bombs Civilian Casualties Still Occurring
- OHCHR: Risks Posed To Right To Privacy By Artificial Intelligence
- WMO: Report On Carbon Emissions, Impact Of COVID-19 On Climate Change And Committing To Net-Zero Emissions Goals
- UN: Torture, Killings and Lawlessness Still Stain Burundi’s Rights Record
- UNICEF: 18 Months Into the Pandemic Schools Remain Closed for 77 Million Children Globally
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION
ICC: Appeals Chamber Confirms The Pre-Trial Chamber’s Decision On The Approach To Admit Victims To Participate In The Proceedings
On 14 September 2021, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) rejected the appeal of Mr Mhamat Said Abdel Kani and confirmed the ‘Decision establishing the principles applicable to victim’s applications for participation’ of the Pre-Trial Chamber II. Mr Said, a national of the Central African Republic (CAR) was allegedly a Seleka commander and is suspected of being responsible for two international crimes. Mr Said surrendered to the authorities of the CAR on 24 January 2021 after an ICC warrant of arrest was issued on 7 January 2019. His initial appearance before the Court took place on 28 and 29 January 2021 while the confirmation of charges hearing is scheduled for 12 October 2021. In responding to the Appeal by Mr Said, the Court held that exceptions to the transmission of copies of victims’ applications to the parties are permissible as long as it is not prejudicial to, or inconsistent with, the right of a suspect or an accused to a fair trial. The Court accordingly found that the method adopted by the Pre-Trial Chamber in admitting the victims’ participation in the proceeding was adequate to ensure fairness.
ECtHR: Failure To Protect Domestic Abuse Victim From Cyberviolence In Volodina v. Russia
On 14 September 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its judgment in the case of Volodina v. Russia. The Court unanimously held that the applicant’s right to respect for private life under Article 8 had been breached. The applicant, Valeriya Igorevna Volodina alleged that the Russian authorities had failed to protect her against the continued cyber violence of her partner who had created fake profiles in her name, published her intimate photos, tracked her movements and sent her death threats via social media. The applicant alleged to have suffered a series of assaults in addition to online harassment from her partner. The applicant reported the incident to the Russian Police in 2016, including evidence of fake social media accounts created by her partner, death threats and a GPS tracker devise in the lining of her bag. No criminal investigations were conducted, and the police maintained that the threats had not materialized. The Court held that Russia was to pay the applicant 7,500 euros in respect of non-pecuniary damage and 5,386.46 in respect of cost expenses. The holding came after the Court was satisfied that Russian law contained both civil law mechanisms and criminal provisions for the protection of an individual’s private life. The authorities had thus been equipped with the legal tools to investigate the cyber violence of which the applicant had been a victim. The Court however noted that Russian law does not make provisions for any form of protection for victims of domestic abuses such a restraining or protection orders.
ECtHR: Pre-Trial Detention Of Mayor Of Siirt, Turkey On Account Of His Activities And Statements
On 14 September 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that there had been a violation of Articles 3 and 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) in the case of Tuncer Bakırhan v. Turkey. The applicant, Tuncer Bakırhan, a former Mayor of Siirt, an urban area in Southeast Turkey was detained after his election in March 2014 as an opposition candidate. The authorities accused him of disseminating propaganda in favour of a terrorist organization (PKK, Kurdistan Workers’ Party; an illegal armed organisation) and of being a member of that group. Following his placement in pre-trial detention, he was removed from his post and was subsequently released on 11 October 2019. During October 2019, he was sentenced to 10 years and 18 days of imprisonment by the Slit Assize Court. On 10 May 2019, Mr Bakırhan complained about his pre-trial detention which he considered to be arbitrary and went to lodge his application to the European Court of Human Rights. The Court, after due consideration, found that the domestic judicial authorities had ignored the applicant’s argument that he was a Mayor with permanent residence who had not been evading justice and had failed to consider imposing alternative measures to pre-trial detention. The Court, therefore, found that there had not been sufficient reasons to order the applicant’s detention pending trial. Concerning the decisions on the applicant’s pre-trial detention, the Court maintained its findings regarding the pre-trial detention. The Court finally considered that the pre-trial detention had not been proportionate to the legitimate aims pursued and, accordingly, had not been necessary for a democratic setting. Also, the measure in question could not be said to have been strictly required by the special circumstances of the state of emergency. Accordingly, the Court held that Turkey was to pay the applicant 10,000 euros in respect of non-pecuniary damage and 3,000 in respect to cost and expenses.
KSC: First Trial Of Salih Mustafa For War Crimes Opens
On 15 September 2021, the first trial of Salih Mustafa, Former Kosovo Liberation Army unit commander, opened at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) in The Hague. Mr Mustafa is charged with involvement in murder, torture, cruel treatment and arbitrary detentions during the Kosovo war of April 1999. The indictment against Mr Mustafa was confirmed on 12 June 2020 and the final version was made public on 28 September 2020. The crimes are alleged to have occurred at the Zllash detention compound in Kosovo in April 1999. The defendant pleaded not guilty. During the trial, the Prosecution provided evidence to point to the accused’s guilt including a picture of the accused in a military uniform. The Prosecution also stated that during the trial, witnesses whom the defendant personally tortured or ordered their torture would be present to testify in Court. The Prosecution stated that there is irrefutable evidence that the former rebel fighter is guilty of the torture of at least 6 people and the murder of another. Salih Mustafa was arrested one year ago in Kosovo and sent to the Netherlands to stand trial at the KSC.
ECtHR: Court Rejects Request For An Advisory Opinion On Biomedicine Treaty
On 15 September 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decided on the request made by the Council of Europe’s Committee on Bioethics (DH-BIO) under Article 29 of the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (“the Oviedo Convention”). A request for an advisory opinion was submitted on 3 December 2019 with the Bioethics committee seeking clarity on certain aspects of the legal interpretation of Article 7 of the Oviedo Convention. The DH-BIO asked the ECtHR to provide an advisory opinion on two questions regarding the protection of human rights and dignity of persons with mental disorders in the face of involuntary placement and treatment. The Court rejected the request. Although the Court recognized that it had jurisdiction to give an advisory opinion, the questions raised did not fall within the Court’s competence. Four judges however expressed a joint dissenting opinion.
ICC: Pre-Trial Chamber I Authorises An Investigation Into The Situation In The Philippines
On 15 September 2021, the Pre-Trial Chambers I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) granted the Prosecution’s request to commence an investigation into crimes committed in the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019. The Prosecutor submitted a request to open an investigation on 24 May 2021 with a public version released on 14 June 2021. The Pre-Trial Chambers examined the Prosecutor’s request and supporting materials, including 204 victims’ representations. The Court noted that specific elements of murder under Article 7(1)(a) of the Statute have been met, in respect to the killings committed in the Philippines between 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019. The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute on 17 March 2019, however, the Court still maintains jurisdiction to try the crimes committed while it was still a State Party.
IRMCT: Court Schedules A Status Conference in The Félicien Kabuga’s Case
On 16 September 2021, the Presiding Judge of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), Iain Bonomy, gave an order scheduling a status conference in the case involving Mr Félicien Kabuga. Mr Kabuga was arrested in France on 16 May 2020 and was temporarily transferred on 26 October 2020 to the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague. Mr Kabuga’s initial appearance took place in person on 11 November 2020 with further status conferences held through written exchanges procedure (due to COVID-19) that commenced on 9 March 2021 and concluded on 6 April 2021. According to the relevant legal provision, another status conference was expected to be held within 120 days after the first status conference in order to organize exchanges between the parties, review the status of the case and allow the accused the opportunity to raise issues relating to their mental and physical condition. The parties have accordingly agreed to an in-person conference on 6 October 2021. Mr Kabuga has been given the choice either to be present in the courtroom, to join via video teleconference or to waive the right to be present.
ICJ: Armenia Institutes Proceedings Against Azerbaijan And Requests Provisional Measures
On 16 September 2021, Armenia instituted proceedings against Azerbaijan before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with regard to alleged violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). As a basis for the Court’s jurisdiction, the Applicant invokes Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Statute of the Court and Article 22 of the CERD, to which both States are Parties. The Applicant contends that “[f]or decades, Azerbaijan has subjected Armenians to racial discrimination” and that, “[a]s a result of this State-sponsored policy of Armenian hatred, Armenians have been subjected to systemic discrimination, mass killings, torture and other abuse”. According to Armenia, these violations are directed at individuals of Armenian ethnic or national origin regardless of their actual nationality. Armenia claims that “[t]hese practices once again came to the fore in September 2020, after Azerbaijan’s aggression against the Republic of Artsakh and Armenia” and that “[d]uring that armed conflict, Azerbaijan committed grave violations of the CERD”. The Applicant alleges that “[e]ven after the end of hostilities”, following a ceasefire which entered into effect on 10 November 2020, “Azerbaijan has continued to engage in the murder, torture and other abuse of Armenian prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons”. According to the Applicant, the purpose of its Request for the indication of provisional measures is to “protect and preserve Armenia’s rights and the rights of Armenians from further harm, and to prevent the aggravation or extension of this dispute, pending the determination of the merits of the issues raised in the Application”. Armenia thus requests the Court to indicate certain provisional measures “as a matter of extreme urgency”.
Serbia: Court Grants Vukovar Victims’ Families Compensation
On 17 September 2021, the Belgrade Court of Appeal awarded 6,000 to 8,000 euros to each of the three families of people killed by Serbian forces at Ovcara Farm near Vukovar, in Croatia, in 1991. However, human rights activists have protested that the amount awarded is inappropriately low. The Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) stated that in the three lawsuits to date, the courts have awarded amounts ranging from 700,000 dinars (roughly 5,900 euros) to 900,00o dinars (7,600 euros) for each plaintiff. HLC cited the case of Brdar v. Croatia at the European Court of Human Rights where the court awarded compensation of over 23,000 euros for the disappearance of a member of the plaintiff’s family during a military operation in Croatia in August 1995. HLC further pointed out that the decision of the Serbian courts to award three times less to plaintiffs in these proceedings speaks of the unwillingness of domestic courts to apply the practice of the European Court of Human Rights. Eight Serb fighters from the Vukovar Territorial Defence force and the Leva Supoderica paramilitary unit were convicted in 2017 in Belgrade of involvement in the deaths of around 200 prisoners who were captured at Vukovar Hospital and then killed at Ovcara Farm.. The families of the victims initiated proceedings against the Serbian Defence Ministry demanding compensation of 2,000,000 dinars (some 17,000 euros) each.
Denmark: Radoslav Brdjanin Sent Back To The Hague Custody
On 17 September 2021, Radoslav Brdjanin who is serving a 30-year sentence for crimes against humanity committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been sent back to the UN Detention unit from a prison in Denmark. The UN’s International Residual Mechanism for criminal tribunals (IRMCT) in The Hague stated that Denmark had previously informed the UN court about its decision to release Brdjanin, following his eligibility for early release under Danish Law and had asked for Brdjanin to be transferred from Denmark within a certain timeframe. According to the statement, the enforcement of Brdjanin’s sentence in Denmark is no longer possible and no other State has been found where he could serve the remainder of his term. Brdjanin is a 73-year-old political leader of the defunct Serb-run rebel territory called Autonomous Region of Krajina in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina. His previous several requests for early release have been rejected, as the crimes for which he was convicted are of high gravity.
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION
IAEA: The UN Atomic Watchdog Reached An Agreement With Iran On Monitoring Of Nuclear Programme
On 13 September 2021, during “constructive” talks between the Vice-President of the Iranian atomic energy association, Mohammad Eslami and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi agreed that new memory cards would be installed into cameras monitoring the country’s nuclear programme. The agreement could avert the formal censure of Iran by the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors at a meeting in Vienna this week, for failing to co-operate with an investigation into traces of uranium found at undeclared nuclear sites. The resolution risked ending the prospect of reviving talks between Iran and the United States on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. On Monday, during the opening of the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Geneva, Mr Grossi recalled that up to 23 February 2021, the agency had verified and monitored the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA. However, since that date, these activities have been seriously undermined as a result of Iran’s decision to stop the implementation of its nuclear-related commitments, including the Additional Protocol. For Mr Grossi, the countries’ nuclear activities “continue to be a cause for serious concern.” He pointed to new indications of the operation of the 5MW (e) reactor and the Radiochemical Laboratory calling them “deeply troubling.” He further added that the continuation of the programme “is a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable.”
South Sudan: Cash Shortage Triggers Food Suspensions For 100,000 Displaced
On 13 September 2021, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned that beginning next month, funding shortages will force it to suspend life-saving food assistance for more than 100,000 displaced people in parts of South Sudan until the start of 2022. While generous contributions from donors have enabled WFP to assist millions; many vulnerable people in crisis areas continue to suffer from the highest levels of food insecurity and cannot survive without sustained food assistance. For the next four months, WFP requires an additional $154 million to provide sufficient quantities of food assistance. Over the last few years, food insecurity has continued to increase, currently affecting more than 60 per cent of South Sudan, according to WFP. In 2018 President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President and long-time political rival Riek Machar signed a peace accord hoping to end the crisis and improve the lives and safety of millions of South Sudanese. However, three years later, implementation continues to stagnate with key issues still unresolved, including the deployment of unified forces and broader security sector reform. Ongoing conflict and the worst flooding in 60 years have left more than eight million people in need of assistance. Humanitarians say food insecurity this year is the worst in a decade with 7.2 million people suffering acute food insecurity. There have also been three years of unprecedented flooding with last year’s floods being the worst in 60 years; affecting 480,000 people. The world’s youngest nation has been mired in instability and conflict since gaining independence from Sudan 10 years ago.
UNITAMS: Responding To Evolving Needs In Sudan Transition Process
On 14 September 2021, the Head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Volker Perthes, told the UN Security Council that despite setbacks and challenges, Sudan continues its transition towards democracy. Mr Perthes briefed the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the authorities’ efforts to address violence in the Darfur region and the east, the ongoing economic crisis, and other issues. Measures have included the launch of an initiative to shape consensus around key objectives such as military and security sector reform, the economy, justice and peace. “There is also growing momentum to move forward on the preparations for constitution-making and elections,” said Mr Perthes. “The Government has produced a draft law on the constitution-making process, which will now be subject to public consultations.” UNITAMS has been focused on ceasefire monitoring in Darfur, which is aligned with the 2020 peace agreement between the authorities and key armed groups. The mission will serve as chair of a Permanent Ceasefire Committee for Darfur and sectoral committees in its five states. UNITAMS has also identified several critical gaps in its ability to provide support to Sudan, particularly in ceasefire monitoring.
WFP: First Humanitarian Flight To Kabul Marks ‘Turning Point’ In Crisis
On 14 September 2021, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that the return of humanitarian flights to Kabul since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is a turning point in the crisis. More than 90 per cent of families are struggling to find enough to eat, and with winter fast approaching, aid agencies have been “scrambling to meet massive needs before it is too late” said WFP spokesperson, Tomson Phiri, who was speaking in Geneva. Through its six field offices across the country, WFP has been stepping up its operations. Food convoys have been moving across the country and in August alone “more than 400,000 people received assistance.” Since the reopening of the air link to Kabul on 12 September, the WFP-led Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) has completed three cargo flights, bringing in medical supplies on behalf of the World Health Organization. Since the beginning of 2021, WFP has assisted more than 6.4 million people. WFP has also deployed an additional 34 mobile health teams since the beginning of August, adding up to a total of 117. Mr Phiri further added that in anticipation of the high food needs and further disruptions to supply chains, food and other stocks have been positioned at strategic border points in Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Syria: After Ten Years Of War, Siege Tactics Still Threaten Civilians
On 14 September 2021, it was reported by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria that the country is not safe for refugees to return to, after a decade of war. The panel’s findings come amid an uptick in violence in the northwest, northeast and south of the country, where the Commissioners highlighted the chilling return of besiegement against the civilian populations by pro-Government forces. The head of the Commission of Inquiry, Professor Paulo Pinheiro, described as “scandalous” the fact that many thousands of non-Syrian children born to former IS fighters continue to be held in detention in dreadful conditions in Syria’s north-east. He further added that “we have the most ratified convention in the world, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is completely forgotten. And democratic States that are prepared to abide by this Convention they neglect the obligations of this Convention in what is happening in Al Hol and other camps and prison places.” Indeed, some 40,000 children continue to be held in camps including Al Hol. Nearly half are Iraqi and 7,800 are from nearly 60 other countries that refuse to repatriate them, according to the Commission of Inquiry report (covering 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021). In addition to the dangers posed by heavy artillery shelling, tens of thousands of civilians are trapped inside Dar’a Al-Balad, and had insufficient access to food and health care, forcing many to flee. Adding to the equation, insecurity in areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria has also deteriorated with increased attacks by extremist “remnants” and conflict with Turkish forces. Despite a welcome drop in the level of violence compared with previous years, the Commission of Inquiry highlighted the dangers that continue to be faced by non-combatants in the country.
UN: Despite Progress In Reducing Cluster Bombs Civilian Casualties Still Occurring
On 15 September 2021, UN-backed civil society Cluster Munition Coalition released “The Cluster Munition Report 2020” which stated that hair-trigger devices have caused at least 360 recorded casualties globally, either by cluster munition attacks (142) or due to remnants of these weapons (218), but the true number may be higher. This represents a continued increase from 317 in 2019 and 277 in 2018; with civilians remaining the primary victims of cluster munitions. Furthermore, it has accounted for all casualties recorded in 2020 including, victims of cluster munitions in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq, Lao PDR, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, as well as, Nagorno-Karabakh. Globally, 26 countries and three other areas remain contaminated by sub-munition remnants. Loren Persi, Impact Editor for the Monitor stated that in the past year, cluster munition attacks have killed and wounded civilians, and the unexploded sub-munitions remain an enduring threat. The report also stated that risk education remains an important part of the dangers that are posed by cluster munitions remnants. Researchers found that the largest number of casualties resulted from cluster munition attacks in Azerbaijan, i.e. 107, which has not joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) has urged non-signatories to take steps to renounce the weapon and join the convention without delay. The report comes as States Parties to the convention prepare to gather for the Second Review Conference, on 20–21 September, and where they will adopt a plan of action for the next four years.
OHCHR: Risks Posed To Right To Privacy By Artificial Intelligence
On 15 September 2021, the UN Human Rights Office as part of its work on technology and human rights published a report “The Right to Privacy in Digital Age” that analyses how artificial intelligence (AI) affects people’s right to privacy and other rights, including the rights to health education, freedom of movement, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of expression. The report looks at how States and businesses have often rushed to incorporate AI applications, failing to carry out due diligence. The report also details how AI systems rely on large data sets with information about individuals collected, shared, merged and analysed in multiple and often opaque ways which are used to inform and guide AI systems. These systems can be faulty, discriminatory, out of date or irrelevant, and long-term storage of data also poses particular risks, as the data could, in the future be exploited in unknown ways. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed the urgent need for a moratorium on the sale and use of artificial intelligence (AI) systems that pose a serious risk to human rights until adequate safeguards are put in place. The UN High Commissioner stated that with the rapid and continuous growth of AI technology, the filling of immense accountability gaps in how data is collected, stored, shared and used is one of the most urgent human rights questions being faced by the international community. She further urged that the risk of discrimination that is linked with AI-driven decisions can change, define or damage human lives and that there is an urgent need for a systematic assessment and monitoring of AI systems, to identify and mitigate human rights risks.
WMO: Report On Carbon Emissions, Impact Of COVID-19 On Climate Change And Committing To Net-Zero Emissions Goals
On 16 September 2021, the landmark report United in Science 2021 was released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in coordination with the UNEP, WHO, the IPCC, the Global Carbon Project (GCP), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the Met Office (UK). The report presents the latest scientific data and findings related to climate change to inform global policy and action. It stated that there “is no sign of growing back greener” as carbon dioxide emissions are rapidly accelerating, after a temporary blip in 2020 due to COVID, and is nowhere close to the targets set by the Paris Agreement. Further, even with the ambitious action to slow greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels will continue to rise and threatening low-lying islands and coastal populations throughout the world. UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that we have reached a tipping point on the need for climate action and that the disruption to our climate, our planet, is already worse than we thought and moving faster than predicted. The report echoes some of the data and warnings from experts in the last year, specifically that the average global temperature for the past five years was among the highest on record, and there is an increasing likelihood that temperatures will temporarily breach the threshold of 1.5° Celsius above the pre-industrial era, in the next five years. The UN chief urged the international community to act now to prevent further damage and that the COP26 this November should mark that turning point, further stating that by then all countries need to commit to achieve net-zero emissions by the middle of this century and to present clear, credible long-term strategies to get there. Although the increasing number of countries committing to net-zero emission goals is encouraging, to remain feasible and credible, these goals urgently need to be reflected in near-term policy, the agency highlights.
UN: Torture, Killings and Lawlessness Still Stain Burundi’s Rights Record
On 16 September 2021, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi stated that despite a pledge by President Evariste Ndayishimiye to address the situation in the country after years of violent repression, arbitrary detention and execution, torture and intimidation, things have not stopped. Doudou Diene, Commission chair told journalists in Geneva that not only have grave human rights violations continued to occur, but in some respects, the situation has deteriorated, explaining that these human rights abuses have happened against a backdrop of “multiple armed attacks” by opponents of the Government since August 2020. The human rights situation remains “dire” in the Great Lakes nation even though the level of political violence has decreased immediately after the 2020 elections. The political climate today, the Commissioners maintained in their fifth and final report to the Human Rights Council, is “highly intolerant of dissent” further highlighting how members of the opposition parties, notably the National Congress for Liberty (CNL) have been targeted. The commission highlighted the lack of promised structural reforms to promote accountability in the country and Commissioner Françoise Hampson stated that the “rule of law in Burundi continues to erode, despite the stated intention of President Ndayishimiye to restore it.” Ms Hampson, in common with the Commission’s previous findings, noted how testimonies gathered for its latest report pointed to an organized campaign “against those elements of the civilian population that were seen as or thought to be hostile to the government in power” a potential crime against humanity. For the past five years, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi has documented, monitored and reported alleged human rights violations in Burundi.
UNICEF: 18 Months Into the Pandemic Schools Remain Closed for 77 Million Children Globally
On 16 September 2021, according to an updated data analysis released by UNICEF, 117 million students (representing 7.5% of the total student population) are still affected by complete school closures in 18 countries. The number of countries with partly open schools has declined from 52 to 41 over the same period and the schools have remained closed for a total period of 18 months in five countries, accounting for 77 million students. In all countries experiencing prolonged school closures, education was provided through a combination of online classes, printed modules, as well as, TV and radio lessons. UNESCO and its Global Education Coalition partners have been advocating for the safe reopening of schools, urging full closures to be used as a measure of last resort. At the onset of vaccination campaigns, UNESCO and Education International urged countries to include teachers as a priority group in national rollout plans to curb the spread of the virus, protect teachers and students, and ensure the continuation of learning. Stefania Giannini, Assistant UNESCO Director-General for Education stated that the longer school remain closed the more dramatic and potentially irreversible the impact on children’s well-being and learning will be, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalised. UNESCO, UNICEF and World Bank have joined forces under “Mission: Recovering Education 2021” to support governments in bringing all learners back to school, run programmes to help them catch up on lost learning and prepare teachers to address learning losses and incorporate digital technology in their teaching, as remedial action to accelerate the recovery of learning losses remains an essential component of national COVID-19 education responses around the world.