Weekly News Recap (6-12 June 2022)

© Photo by Sudan Envoy via Flickr




USA: American Woman Pleaded Guilty for Leading and Organizing Military Training of Young Women for ISIS

On 7 June 2022, a former resident of Kansas named Allison Fluke-Ekren pleaded guilty before the court to organising and training more than 100 women and girls in Syria for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). She engaged in several overseas terrorist activities and travelled to Syria, Libya and Iraq for the same. Fluke-Ekren served as a leader of an ISIS military battalion, known as the Khatiba Nusaybah. She trained girls to use weapons like AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and suicide belts. She was involved in organising facilities for the females that were a part of ISIS and provided assistance in planning attacks. In 2018, she sent a witness to one of her family members instructing him to inform them about her death so that the US government would stop searching for her. Fluke-Ekren faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. She is scheduled to be sentenced on 25 October this year.


Russia: Two Bills Ending ECtHR Jurisdiction Over Russia Passed by the Parliament

On 7 June 2022, two bills ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) have been passed by the Russian State of Duma. The bills were passed almost unanimously with one member of the opposition Communist Party voting against and dissenting from them. Among the two bills, one will end the jurisdiction of ECtHR over Russia and the other has defined March 15 as the cut-off date for rulings against Russia which implies that no ruling after the said date would be implemented. Russia is withdrawing from ECtHR under Article 7 of the Charter which provides that any member of the council may withdraw following an official notification. On the same day, the ECtHR ruled in a case of a complaint filed by Russian members of Jehovah’s Witnesses which is a banned Christian Group in Russia. The Court ruled in favour of the group and directed Russia to take necessary steps to ensure termination of criminal prosecution of Jehovah’s witnesses and release of those convicted. The ruling may not be implemented if Putin signs the bills.



The Netherlands: Ethiopian-Dutch Man Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Committing War Crimes in the 1970s

On 8 June 2022, an Ethiopian-Dutch man was convicted of war crimes committed in Ethiopia in the 1970s during the rule of the brutal Marxist regime. The appeals court sentenced Eshetu Alemu, 67, to life imprisonment. Alemu did not attend the hearing and had sought before the court to quash the 2017 conviction verdict. According to experts, approximately 150,000 students, politicians and intellectuals who opposed the regime were brutally killed. Alemu was convicted for acting as a representative of the Dergue regime of the former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in a 1977-78 purge. The Court observed that the death sentences were carried out on the order of the defendant. Many students and opposition groups were detained without a reasonable cause and were severely tortured and kept in inhumane conditions. In 2017, Alemu accepted the blame for the crimes committed but denied committing them personally.



Ukraine: Eight More War Crimes Cases Filed Before the Court

On 8 June 2022, according to Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, eight new cases in addition to three sentences that have already been granted to Russian soldiers have been filed before the court. Since the time the Russia-Ukraine war began, more than 16,000 investigations have been launched to seek justice for the war crimes committed by the Russian troops. Russia denies all the allegations while calling its invasion a “special operation” to demilitarise Ukraine. According to Venediktova, since the suspects are not located in Ukraine physically, they are going for an in-absentia trial as it is necessary to provide justice to all the Ukrainian victims.


Serbia: Four Croatian Officers Charged for Committing War Crimes Against Civilians in 1995

On 8 June 2022, the High Court of Belgrade charged four senior Croatian army officers for committing war crimes against civilians. They are accused of ordering an airborne attack on Serbian refugees during Operation Storm in 1995. The Court held that there were reasonable pieces of evidence and data for concluding that there is reasonable suspicion. Since all the suspects are Croatian citizens, they will be tried in absentia. According to the Serbian War Crime Prosecutor, 13 people were killed while 24 were injured. Both the Croatian and Serbian Prosecutions work under an agreement for cooperation in war crime cases. They are only limited to providing pieces of evidence while extradition of suspects is not allowed. The Operation Storm led to the defeat of rebel Serbs by the Croatian forces. The operation led to killing of hundreds of Serbs and more than 200,000 refugees fled to Serbia. It is a major milestone of victory for Croatia.


Ukraine: Two British and One Moroccan National Sentenced to Death by the DPR Court

On 9 June 2022, a court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) sentenced two Britishers and one Moroccan national to death. DPR is a Pro-Russian separatist state located within Ukraine and is not recognised to be independent internationally. In its first verdict since the Russia-Ukraine war, the court sentenced the three men for fighting for the Ukrainian army against the Russian troops. The three men were charged with violation of four articles of the DPR’s legal code. The Court observed that their actions led to killing of civilians and destruction of infrastructure. The court identified each of the groups as “mercenaries”. The Geneva Convention provides immunity to fighters from prosecution for military actions deemed to be lawful. Such a designation of “mercenaries” of the three men that have been captured implies that they are outside the remit of the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war. Their lawyer has decided to appeal against the verdict. On 10 June 2022, the UN declared such an unfair trial verdict against prisoners of war would amount to a war crime. OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani declared that the OHCHR is concerned about the death sentence given to three foreign fighters by the so-called Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed DPR. The persons in the case, Britons Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim were reportedly captured while fighting in the city of Mariupol. According to the chief command of Ukraine, the men should not be considered mercenaries, as all three were part of the Ukrainian armed forces. UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric stated that the organization calls for international protection and correct treatment of detained combatants according to the Geneva Conventions. He continued by highlighting the longstanding concerns about fair trial violations in Ukraine’s breakaway eastern regions bordering Russia, mentioning that the judiciary non-compliances of the self-contained republics is acknowledged since 2015.  




KSC: Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli’s Detention Period Extended Again

On 9 June 2022, the Kosovo Specialist Chamber judge has yet again decided to keep ex-president Hashim Thaci and ex-parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli under detention citing their release might increase the risk of them absconding and obstructing the progress of Specialist Chambers proceedings. They are facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity that were allegedly committed in the 1998-99 conflicts in Kosovo. It was further held that a house arrest is also out of question considering they both have significant authority over the region of Kosovo. Judge Nicolas Guillou noted that Verseli was the head of SHIK which is a Kosovo Intelligence Agency and was involved in witness interference. These two accused alongside two others are awaiting trial for crimes committed by them and several other members of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in parts of Kosovo and also in Albania against civilians and non-combatants.


USA: Police Officer Charged with Second Degree Murder for Killing an Unarmed Black Man

On 9 June 2022, a police officer was charged with second-degree murder for shooting an unarmed black man named Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop two months ago. According to the autopsy report, the officer had shot Lyoya by aiming the gun at the back of his head and had fired once. Lyoya’s family originally comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The prosecuting attorneys informed the reporters that based on the investigation reports they had decided to charge the police officer with one count of second-degree murder. It is punishable by up to life in prison with a possibility of Parole. Lyoya’s death led to mass protest and reopened the issue of police violence against black people in the country.


Malaysia: Compulsory Death Penalty to Be Abolished

On 10 June 2022, law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaffar confirmed that Malaysia is all set to abolish the compulsory death sentence on 11 offences and to propose alternative sentences. Such offences included murder, terrorism, etc. Such a move would let the judges decide the appropriate punishment for each case depending upon the degree of crime. Further, other 22 offences that use the death penalty as a punishment will also be reviewed. According to Wan Junaidi, it would help ensure the rights of all the parties are protected and upheld. Currently, more than 1,300 people are on death row. During the Pakatan Harapan government in 2018, Malaysia took its first step toward abolishing the death penalty.


UK: High Court Ruled that Deportation of Rwandan Asylum Seekers can Commence

On 10 June 2022, the High Court in London held that people seeking asylum in the United Kingdom can be sent back to Rwanda. This ruling came after charities and trade unions challenged the government’s plan to send the asylum seekers back to Rwanda. The plan was challenged by several asylum seekers considering it was unsafe for them to be sent back. Judge Jonathan Swift refused the request for an injunction to stop the first flight next week and held that the flight that would take asylum seekers back to Rwanda can be scheduled for next week. Approximately 130 asylum seekers have been notified of being sent back to Rwanda. The UN officials and refugee groups have called the plan “unethical and inhumane”. The Court has granted permission to human rights groups to file an appeal.



Nigeria: Shooting in Church Kills 50 People

On 6 June 2022, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres condemned the attack that occurred in a church in Nigeria on 5 June 2022 during mass, calling the act “heinous”. According to various reports, before the shooting occurred the assailants had infiltrated the congregation at St. Francis Church. No one has claimed responsibility for the killings and no suspects have been identified by the Nigerian police authorities. The UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is in the process of creating a plan of action for making places of worship along with allowing people of all faiths to peacefully practice their religion, and the UNAOC High Representative Miguel Moratinos has called upon governments for implementing the plan. Few residents and lawmakers suspect that the attack was carried out by ethnic Fulani terrorists, who have been known for carrying out a series of attacks not only across Northern Nigeria but also in other parts of the country. Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Director while condemning the attack urged that the persons responsible for it should be brought to justice.




UNICEF: Increasing Child Deaths Because of Malnutrition and a 15 Per Cent Increase in Children Affected with Acute Malnutrition in the Horn of Africa

On 7 June 2022, Rania Dagash, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa after meeting families in the Horn of Africa expressed her deep concern over the increased child deaths due to malnutrition. She urged that if the international community does not bring its focus toward the Horn of Africa there could be an “explosion of child deaths” in the region. She stated that there are 386,000 children in Somalia alone in need of treatment for life-threatening severe acute malnutrition, with a 15 per cent rise in children afflicted with the worst kind of malnutrition since the 2011 famine in the region. She also highlighted that the impact of the Ukraine crisis on global food and supply chains along with failed monsoons, there would a 16 per cent spike in the cost of life-saving therapeutic food which UNICEF provides to children suffering from severe acute malnutrition; therefore, an additional $12 million in funding would be required for Horn of Africa.



OHCHR: Myanmar’s Military Junta Restricts Access to the Internet

On 7 June 2022, the UN experts, Thomas Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights in Myanmar and Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of freedom of speech and expression, criticised Myanmar’s military junta for the imposition of restrictions on access to the internet, online censorship, and surveillance and internet shutdowns. “A digital dictatorship” was being imposed by the junta, according to the UN experts. The experts underscored that the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression of people in Myanmar were being violated and the international community should respond by condemning the policies of the junta while also adopting sanctions against the military and military-linked companies. The experts further highlighted the restrictions on access to the internet imposed by the junta as a means of concealing the atrocities being committed. Furthermore, according to the experts, the restrictions on internet use also acts as an impediment for journalists and humanitarian organisations to collect and disseminate evidence as to human rights abuses being committed in the country.


Israel: Independent Commission Reports Probes into the Root Causes of the Prolonged Conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

On 7 June 2022, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel in its first report stated that the key root causes of the continued tensions, instability and prolonged conflict in the region are “occupation and discrimination”. The Commission was established in May 2021 for identifying the causes of the conflict and collecting evidence as to human rights violations being committed in the region. Navanethem Pillay, the Commission’s chair highlighted that the findings that revealed the root causes have mostly pointed towards Israel and it has been taken as an indicator of the “asymmetrical nature of the conflict”. The report was released in light of the assessment that was made of the findings of the previous Commissions and Fact Finding Commissions; furthermore, according to Ms Pillay, the recommendations made by previous commissions were not fully implemented which also included ensuring Israel’s accountability for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law obligations. Furthermore, the report has also noted that the Palestinian Authority has been committing human rights violations and to hide the same they have been using the occupation as a justification. In order to ensure individual, State and corporate responsibility, the Commission would be conducting investigations while also working with judicial accountability mechanisms.  


UNITAD: Eighth Report into the ISIL/Da’esh Crimes in Iraq Presents Significant Progress Made in the Evidence Collection

On 8 June 2022, the head of the United Nations team investigating the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)’s crimes briefed the Security Council on the progress made in the collection of evidence of financing, use of chemical weapons and crimes committed by the group made in the last six months. The progress has been aided by the fact that working modalities have returned to normal, including the conversion of over 4.5 million hard-copy pages of documentary evidence from courts across Iraq into digital format. The digitalisation, pursued in close cooperation between the team, the Iraqi judiciary and government will enable efficient legal proceedings and preserve the historical record of the crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh. During the discussion many Council members welcomed the close cooperation between UNITAD and the Iraqi authorities, yet the representative of China pointed out that the team is an interim, transitional arrangement to support Iraq’s efforts towards ensuring accountability in accordance with domestic law and should not be transformed into a permanent body.  


EU & OHCHR: Areas of Respective Interest and Advance Cooperation Discussed at the Second Strategic Dialogue on Human Rights

On 8 June 2022, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the European Union (EU) held their second Strategic Dialogue on Human Rights to review progress on joint EU – OHCHR initiatives since the previous Strategic Dialogue in October 2021, discuss common interests and enhance cooperation. The discussion also covered geographic developments and specific country situations, considering the impact of overlapping crises on human rights and the international human rights system. The organizations emphasized the urgent need to strengthen multilateral action for protecting people and putting their rights first, consequently agreeing on the need to promote compliance with international human rights law and humanitarian law. Moreover, both structures debated practices and experience, including the development of due diligence policies. OHCHR and the EU agreed to accelerate joint action for racial justice and gender equality, advancing at the same time the Sustainable Development Agenda and building back better from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.



IOM: 126 Stranded Ethiopian Migrants Depart from Conflict-Affected Ma’rib on the First-ever Voluntary Humanitarian Return Flight

On 9 June 2022, the first-ever voluntary humanitarian return flight, arranged by the International Organization for Migration and travelling from Ma’rib, transported 126 Ethiopian stranded migrants to Addis Ababa. At the same time, thousands of other migrants are waiting in dire conditions for this possibility, as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has arranged several such flights in order to help 900 Ethiopians move out of Ma’rib in the coming month. Keeping the flight running requires USD 7.5 million.  The centre of Ma’rib is located approximately 25 kilometers from the nearest frontline, therefore it comes as no surprise that the city had been one of the main hotspots of the conflict. Approximations assume that 4,500 migrants are stranded there. Since the start of the conflict, nearly one million Yemenis have been displaced, therefore the country faces the highest levels of displacement.


UNSC: Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique and Switzerland Elected to Join the Council as Non-Permanent Members

On 9 June 2022, following the General Assembly vote, the five countries have been elected to join the UN body responsible for the maintenance of global peace and security. The countries will assume their attributions beginning with January 2023. The Security Council is comprised of 15 members. Among them, five (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) are permanent members with the right to veto, while the remaining 10 are elected to serve for two year terms by the General Assembly, comprised of all 193 UN Member States. In order to secure a place on the Council, countries must receive a two-thirds majority, or 128 votes, even if they run uncontested. Overall 192 members participated in the elections, and Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique and Switzerland ran largely uncontested. The countries will join Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates, replacing India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway. 


India: As Unlawful Killings Continue in Jammu & Kashmir, Indian Authorities Fail to Protect Minorities in the Region

On 10 June 2022, the Amnesty International in a press release urged that there should be a “prompt, independent and impartial; investigation” conducted by Indian authorities into the unlawful killings of civilians by an armed group that occurred recently in Kashmir. Since the revocation of the special (autonomous) status of Jammu and Kashmir by the Government of India in 2019, there has been an escalation in violence against civilians and recently three people belonging to the Hindu minority community had been killed. Aakar Patel, chair of Amnesty International India Board stated that for decades’ people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) have been facing gross human rights violations as well as violence from states as well as non-state actors. He further urged that the Indian government should end the utter disregard for the human rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir and ensure that no abuse against civilians is repeated. According to media reports in 2022, 19 civilians have been killed in the region, while according to the Indian Government’s data, between the time period from August 2019 and November 2021 87 civilians have been killed by armed groups in the region. Aakar Patel also urged that the Indian Government should not be promoting a false narrative of normalcy in Jammy and Kashmir while also encouraging the commission of further abuses but it should take relevant steps for ensuring security and inclusivity in the region.


Leave a Reply