Weekly News Recap (7-13 March 2022)

© Photo by Mirek Pruchnicki via Flickr




ICC: New Deputy Prosecutors Sworn In

On 7 March 2022, Mr Mame Mandiaye Niang (Senegal) and Ms Nazhat Shameem Khan (Fiji) took the oath of office, for a nine-year term, in a ceremony held at the Seat of the Court in The Hague. During the ceremony, International Criminal Court (ICC) President, Judge Piotr Hofmański presided, and H.E. Ambassador Kateřina Sequensová together with ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan QC welcomed their arrival at the ICC. Prosecutor Khan expressed how delighted he was to welcome them and how significant it was to have the Deputy Prosecutors join the Office of the Prosecutor, given their extensive experience and dynamism. The Deputy Prosecutors proceeded to take their public oath in which they declared to solemnly perform their duties honourably, faithfully and impartially in accordance with Article 45 of the Rome Statute. The ceremony came to end after both Deputy Prosecutors signed their oath before the ICC Registrar Peter Lewis.


ICJ: Russia Absent During the Genocide Convention Case Hearing

On 7 March 2022, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest court of the United Nations, held a hearing regarding the emergency order on request from Ukraine to stop all hostile advancements in its territory. There was no legal representative for Russia, and the legal representative for Ukraine did not waste a moment to state, that Russia’s absence was due to their efforts in waging war against Ukraine. Ukraine presented their arguments regarding Russia’s false justification of genocide, in which Russia proceeded with special military actions to ‘protect individuals whose first or main language is Russian.’ During the hearing, the court stated that even with Russia’s absence, this would not impact the regular flow of the proceedings. The court said that it would start deliberations and provide a ruling on the case soon.



Libya: Residents of Derna Detained After Prison Escape

On 8 March 2022, an armed group associated with the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) arrested around 50 citizens in the city of Derna, following a prison escape in January of this year. Recently, this armed group is reported to have arrested at least 5 individuals who escaped the prison and have immediately brought them back to detention. At this moment it’s not completely clear what the frequency of the detention is nor how many individuals have been caught and detained by this group, but what is known for sure is that the continued actions taken by the LAAF is only part of their organized tactics to bring terror to the residents in Derna. The International Criminal Court has since 2011 announced its investigation in the situation of Libya on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The government, since the conflict began in 2014, has been divided into the central authority and emerging internal authorities. The LAAF is an armed group led by Khalifa Hiftar that has taken control of some eastern and southern parts of the country. These serious claims of arbitrary detentions and ill-treatments need an urgent response, as the armed group operates in a way that reflects a fearlessness for consequences or the end to their impunity.


Venezuela: Two U.S. Citizens Freed and Returned to the U.S.

On 9 March 2022, Gustavo Cardenas and Jorge Alberto Fernandez were released from jail after being charged by the Venezuelan government on unrelated charges: one with corruption. After their release, they were welcomed back in the United States. It has been suggested that this move by the Venezuelan government might be due to President Maduro’s intention to improve the relationship between both countries amidst the situation of Russian aggression against Ukraine. President Maduro has opened the door to more dialogue with the opposition in the country which would cause the sanctions imposed by the U.S. government to lessen. These actions from the Venezuelan government could mean that the greatest ally of Russia in the region would be ready to let go and set some distance. However, the conditions and reasons under which such a release of foreign or, in this case, U.S. citizens, took place still arose discontent, as it denotes the illegality of such detention.


ECtHR: Urgent Interim Measure in the Case of the Russian Daily Newspaper Novaya Gazeta

On 10 March 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decided to apply an urgent interim measure in the case ANO RID Novaya Gazeta and Others v. Russia (application no. 11884/22). The Court, in the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before it, and having regard to the exceptional context in which the request has been lodged, invited the Russian authorities, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, to abstain until further notice from actions and decisions aimed at full blocking and termination of the activities of Novaya Gazeta, and from other actions that in the current circumstances could deprive Novaya Gazeta of the enjoyment of its rights guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of expression). The applicants are two Russian companies, ANO RID Novaya Gazeta and OOO Telekanal Dozhd, and two Russian nationals, Dmitriy Andreyevich Muratov, and Natalya Vladimirovna Sindeyeva. Mr Muratov is the 2021 Nobel Peace laureate and editor of Novaya Gazeta, a daily newspaper. Ms Sindeyeva is the owner of Telekanal Dozhd, a television company. On 3 March 2022 the Court received a request by Mr Muratov for an interim measure in the above application, asking that the Court indicate to the Russian Government not to interfere with lawful activity of Russian mass media, including Novaya Gazeta, covering the armed conflict on the territory of Ukraine, in particular, to refrain from blocking information items and materials containing opinions different from the official point of view of the Russian authorities; and to abstain from full blocking and termination of the activity of Russian mass media, including Novaya Gazeta.


ECtHR: Detention and Deportation of Turkish Citizens from Azerbaijan Had Been “Extrajudicial Rendition”

On 10 March 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment). The case concerned the arrest, detention and expulsion of the applicants from Azerbaijan to Turkey. All four had worked in Azerbaijan as teachers in private schools associated with the Gülen movement. The Court found in particular that the removal of the applicants had been a disguised extradition and their deprivation of liberty had been part of an extra-legal transfer in contravention of domestic and international law, noting how the authorities had circumvented formal extradition proceedings and relevant international safeguards, violating their Article 5 and Article 3 rights.


Pakistan: ISIS Suicide Bomber Found to be Afghan Exile

On 10 March 2022, an ISIS suicide bomber who killed 64 people at a Shia mosque in Pakistan last week was identified, as a 30-year-old man with Afghan origins. Police officials also reported that the perpetrator had been living in Pakistan with his family for a very long time and had returned to Afghanistan for the sole purpose of training and preparing for the attack, without informing anyone. In retrospect, the police announced that three individuals suspected of taking part in the attack were killed during a security operation. This event was quickly followed by smaller and similar attacks on Shia mosques in the Afghan territory. With ISIS taking responsibility for the suicide blasts and the Taliban having their own internal operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan has become a key actor intervening between the international community and the group.


ICC: Arrest Warrants in the Situation in Georgia

On 10 March 2022, the Office of the Prosecutor (OPT) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that Mr Karim Khan had filed an application for an arrest warrant to be issued for three individuals, in the Situation in Georgia. After the examination of the evidence, the OTP has decided that there were reasonable grounds that the individuals charged, namely Mikhail Mayramovich Mindzaev, Gamlet Guchmazov, and David Georgiyevich Sanakoev were responsible for war crimes committed in Georgia between the dates of 8 and 27 August 2008. The Prosecutor is now awaiting the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber on the arrest warrant which will be, when approved, followed by operations focused on the apprehension of the charged perpetrators and the bringing forth before the court in a trial.


ECtHR: Measures Applied in Respect of All Cases Concerning Russia Owing to Disruption to the Postal Service

On 10 March 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decided to take a number of measures which will now be applied in all cases concerning Russia until further notice owing to the disruption to the postal service since the start of March 2022. The Court will register new cases and may proceed with a preliminary examination of their admissibility and merits but will not invite the Government of the Russian Federation to submit observations unless it is possible to use the Court’s service for communicating electronically with an applicant’s representative. There will be no general extension of the time-limit (Article 35 of the European Convention on Human Rights) for lodging an application with the Court. The Court will assess in due time compliance with this admissibility criterion taking into account the exceptional circumstances. Where the case file is ready for examination, decisions and judgments will continue to be adopted. They will be published on the Court’s database, Hudoc, and notified to the parties where it is possible to use eComms. In other cases, they will not be notified to the parties and will not be published on HUDOC until further notice. If it is possible to use eComms, time-limits will continue to be fixed in the usual way. If not, no new time-limits will be fixed and all time-limits already running in pending cases will be suspended until further notice. Incoming correspondence will be processed in the usual way. If it is possible to use eComms, outgoing correspondence will also be processed in the usual way; if not, it will be suspended until further notice. Exceptions to the above measures can be decided by the President of the Court of his own motion or on request by the parties. These measures will be reassessed in the light of developments in the postal service and will automatically be lifted if the postal service is resumed.



UNICEF & UNHCR: Ukrainian Children Without Parental Care From Families Are the Most Vulnerable

On 7 March 2022, UNICEF’s Executive Director Catherine Russell and UNHCR High Commissioner Filipo Grandi expressed their concern over displaced Ukrainians and urged countries for ensuring that the children displaced be duly identified, registered and provided with safe spaces. With 1.7 million having fled Ukraine in two weeks, most of them have fled to Poland while the others have headed towards Hungary, Slovakia, and Moldova. Among those refugees are thousands of children who have been separated from their families. The UN agency chiefs further highlighted the urgent need children who were either unaccompanied or separated from their families were the most vulnerable and measures for their protection should be taken in their best interests. They further underscored that the existing needs of children have to be addressed immediately along with putting their safety at the front while long term solutions are being ascertained. There are almost 100 000 children in Ukraine who are registered in institutional care or boarding schools and half of these children are with disabilities.



MINUSMA: Two Blue Helmets Dead at the UN Mission’s Convoy Attack in the Northern Region of Mali

On 7 March 2022, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) stated that a logistics convoy from the mission on its way to Timbuktu was hit by an improvised explosive device in the north of Mopti, killing two blue helmets as a consequence. The attacks were deplored by the UN Special Representative and head of MINUSMA El-Ghassim Wane reiterated the fact that under the ambit of international law the attacks against UN peacekeepers may constitute war crimes. He also called upon the Malian authorities to take prompt action in identifying the perpetrators and bringing them to justice. He reminded that this attack calls for making immediate efforts in bringing strategies to stabilise the region of central Mali. Since 2013, more than 250 blue helmets have been killed, making MINUSMA one of the most dangerous UN peacekeeping missions in the world as the peacekeepers face daily risks and hazards. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement issued on 8 March 2022 also expressed his concerns and condemned the attack on the peacekeeping mission convoy. He also echoed the fact that the UN continues to support the people and Government of Mali by capacity enhancement of MINUSMA along with bringing stability to the region through strategies developed by the Government.



Nicaragua: Brutal Repression from Ortega’s Government

On 7 March, Michelle Bachelet, presented a report that compiles the brutal repression from the Nicaraguan government led by Daniel Ortega. Such a report by the High Commissioner makes mention of a series of violations of both civil and political rights of citizens. The violations include abusive and arbitrary detention of those holding a dissenting opinion on the current government, prevention of a fair process of election and also targeting of candidates for elections that find themselves in prison. A great majority of citizens, whether they are involved in politics or not, are being arbitrarily detained and many are being prosecuted on grounds of conspiracy against national integrity. The judicial system in Nicaragua has proven to be in favour of the government and therefore has failed to bring justice to the victims of the current oppressive leadership of Ortega which leaves countless abuses by government officials, police officers, and many others unaccounted for.


Israel & Palestine: Amid Deteriorating Security Situation, Daily Violence on the Rise in the Region

On 8 March 2022, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland voiced concerns over the daily violence being witnessed in the occupied West Bank, further adding that around 26 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been injured during the conflict. According to news reports, a Palestinian man was shot dead by the Israeli police on 7 March after he has stabbed two officers by the Old City of Jerusalem gate. On 6 March a Palestinian who threw a firebomb at an army post was shot by soldiers. According to news reports, the assailant was a 16-year-old as stated by the Palestinian officials. Mr Wennesland reiterated the fact that “children must never be targeted or put in harm’s way,” further adding that there can be no justification for the violence or terror. He also noted the intensification of the levels of violence and called upon poetical, religious and community leaders for speaking against those who were further escalating the situation. He underlined that it was crucial to work towards the restoration of peace and a prospective political resolution for ending the Israel-Palestine conflict.


UN Women: Gender Equality Is Set Back by Conflicts, Military Coups and the COVID-19 Pandemic

On 8 March 2022, to mark the occasion of International Women’s Day, Executive Director Sima Bahous addressed the UNSC and stated that gender equality gained over the past decades has been reduced because of military coups, seizures of power by force and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She further stated that including women in economic recovery would be essential in sustaining peace as they are more likely to expend their incomes on family needs along with making a bigger contribution towards recovery but the existing patterns of discrimination and exclusion have kept women away from employment prospects, land or property. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), also reiterated that years of progress on gender equality would be set back because of crises like the pandemic, comic emergencies or military conflicts. She further added that their tremendous learning losses have been witnessed in developing countries where 20 million girls may never return to school. She underscored that gender equality was essential for promoting economic growth, improving financial stability, strengthening community resilience so that women become able to reach their fullest potential. She further urged international organisations and governments to close gender gaps in order to improve development prospects. The International Monetary Fund has been putting continuous efforts to help its members in developing and implementing such economic policies to ensure improved education and healthcare leading to greater growth and resilience.


UNESCO: International Community Puts Efforts to Protect Ukrainian Heritage

On 9 March 2022, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said that it is taking steps to prevent some of Ukraine’s highly valued cultural properties from destruction. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said that the international community has a collective duty of protecting the cultural properties of Ukraine for the future despite the most pressing concern involving the protection of civilians. Several cultural sites and monuments have been marked with a Blue Shield emblem as required by international law to prevent intentional or incidental attacks. The UN Agency had earlier called for parties involved in the conflict to respect the provision of the law with regards to the protection of cultural properties. The call also included the need to respect the resolution concerning the protection of media professionals during the conflict to promote impartial media coverage. Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre Lazare Eloundou Assomo said that numerous world heritage sites are currently under strict monitoring. A meeting has been scheduled with “Ukrainian cultural professionals, including World Heritage Site managers and museum directors, to determine what technical or financial assistance can be offered.”


IOM: Airbnb.org and IOM Unite to Support Ukrainian Refugees

On 9 March 2022, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Airbnb.org announced their collaboration to assist persons fleeing from Ukraine and link them to short-term housing in the neighbouring countries. With millions of persons fleeing Ukraine as a result of the conflict, Airbnb has offered free housing to thousands of refugees. The co-founder and chairman of Airbnb.org, Joe Gebbia expressed delight in the collaboration to offer humanitarian aid. The Deputy Director-General of IMO Amy Pope while also expressing delight at the collaboration noted that as the winter is still harsh in many areas and the provision of accommodation is what the people currently need since it impacts their general wellbeing. With its priority ensuring safety and protection of refugees, IOM is “screening and assessing potential vulnerabilities and risks, including for human trafficking, child protection, health and mental health, and the arrival of more vulnerable people with special needs, including elderly, wounded or sick people.” IOM and Airbnb have a previous record of collaborating to support refugees around the world and have partnered since 2019 to support Syrian and Afghan refugees.


Ukraine: Talks Between Ukraine and Russian Ministers End in Deadlock

On 10 March 2022, the discussion between the foreign minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba, and the Minister of Russia Sergei Lavrov in Turkey ended in a deadlock with no agreement to a ceasefire. The discussion came after an attack was launched at a children’s hospital in Mariupol which Mr Kuleba described as the worst-hit area resulted in great suffering to residents trapped in the area. The Ukrainian Minister reiterated Ukraine’s firmness to hold on to their position without surrendering, whereas Russia’s Minister accuses the west of encouraging the conflict due to support given to Ukrainians. He further added that Russia would come out from the numerous sanctions with even better “psychology and conscience.” The Russian Minister denied any attack occurring in Mariupol adding that the area had been under Ukraine’s control, which goes against the report by the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) about the deteriorating situation in the city which is attributable to the Russian forces. The White House has warned that Russia could utilize chemical weapons as a “false flag” operation to justify their counter-attack.


Russia: Retaliation With the Export Embargo

On 10 March 2022, Russia imposed embargoes on some products exported from the country until the end of the year. The Russian economy ministry has said that more sanctions are expected, especially concerning foreign ships in Russian Ports. These measures are in reaction to the numerous sanctions imposed on Russia by the West. It has been said that many countries will be affected by the ban including EU members and the US as well as the foreign companies operating in Russia. With many firms leaving the country as a result of the fighting, Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev has expressed concerns that the Russian government would turn the assets of those firms into national properties. According to Medvedev, the Russian officials are currently developing measures and policies including the bankruptcy of the foreign companies. He also blamed foreign investors for creating “panic” which could lead to Russian citizens losing their livelihoods. A business analyst Theo Leggett has commented on the export bans and concludes that “the impact of the counter-sanctions looks more symbolic than significant. Restrictions on exports of raw materials on the other hand – if Russia were to introduce them – could have a much more dramatic effect.”


South Sudan: Families Suffer as Hunger Escalates in the Country

On 11 March 2022, the United Nations World Food Programme warned that the South Sudanese people are about to experience the highest level of food insecurity in years caused by conflict, climate change, global pandemic, and economic inflation. The UN Agency warned that millions of people are on the verge of starvation in the upcoming months. The 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview published findings regarding those who are already hungry are highly likely to starve in the absence of additional food assistance. The Deputy Country Director of the World Food Programme in South Sudan Adeyinka Badejo, noted that people had exhausted all options at livelihood and are now left with nothing. The WFP through its many activities helps communities to cope with the unplanned events while still maintaining its production assets. The Deputy Country Director explained that many people in need of assistance could not be reached due to the limitation in resources. He then assured the people of WFP’s support, which reached millions of people in 2021 in the Greater Jonglei and Unity States which were severely affected by the unprecedented floods that occurred alongside the conflict. Mr. Bandejo applauded the work being done and stated that while efforts are made to address the most concerns, collaboration with the Government and other partners is necessary for a longer solution to the situation.


Ukraine: Russian Shell Bombing Reaches 80 Civilians in a Mosque

On 12 March 2022, the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine announced that Russian air forces reached a Mosque in Mariupol through shell bombing that was said to have been hosting 80 civilians who were looking for refuge during the conflict. It later appeared that there were Turkish citizens seeking refuge in the mosque, as well. A Russian blockade around the city of Mariupol left many civilians incapable of leaving, causing many to be present during the bombardments. Meanwhile, Moscow has continued to deny any direct attacks on civilians and instead proceeds to accuse Ukraine, of its lack of efforts in evacuating its citizens. Amid this situation, different attempts have been taken to help evacuate civilians to other cities in Ukraine, such as Zaporizhzhia. The most recent developments report that the Russian army continues to advance, destroying local airports, striking towns, and even reaching an oil depot and causing it to burn.


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