Weekly News Recap (27 June-3 July 2022)

© Photo by jbdodane via Flickr




Kosovo: Police Arrests a Serbian Citizen for Inciting Hatred After the Annual Memorial Service of the Battle of Kosovo

On 28 June 2022, Serbian citizen Nikola Nedeljkovic was arrested for inciting hatred and discord after a memorial service of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo held at the Gazimestan monument. The police also stopped ten Montenegro citizens and found T-shirts they suspected to be offensive. The T-shirts had the slogan “Rejoice, Serbian people” (“Veseli se, srpski rode”), and drawings of a map of Serbia including Kosovo and a picture of famous Montenegrin medieval poet, Petar Petrovic Njegos. The police were then stationed at the Gazimestan monument in search of offensive material such as T-shirts with the slogans “Kosovo is Serbia” or “Kosovo and Metohija.”


Colombia: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Issues its Final Report

On 28 June 2022, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its final report on the overall description of the Colombian armed conflict. The Commission, created in the aftermath of the 2016 Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), urged the government and all armed actors to recognize the suffering of victims and to ensure that political disputes no longer be solved through violence. The Commission was made up of academics and representatives of civil society and its findings do not have a judicial effect. Aside from this report, the Commission issued a series of recommendations aimed at stopping future conflicts from occurring in Colombia, including changes to drug policy and transformation of the military forces. The 900-page report was the result of 30,000 interviews with victims, military commanders, former guerrilla members, and five former Colombian presidents. Among its main findings, the report claims that during the Colombian conflict 50,000 people were kidnapped between 1990 and 2018. In the same period, more than 7 million were internally displaced and 56,000 civilians were killed by the armed forces including 6,300 that were falsely presented as rebel fighters killed in the hostilities (also known as false positives). 


Germany: Former Nazi Guard to be Sentenced at Age 101

On 28 June 2022, a German court will deliver its verdict in the trial of a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard. Josef Schuetz has become the oldest person to be charged with complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust. He is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945. The accused claimed that he was not aware that crimes were being committed at the camp and that he has done “absolutely nothing” while the theory of the Prosecutors is that Schuetz had both knowledge and intent when he participated in the crimes as a guard of the concentration camp. The people in the camp, mainly Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gays, were subjected to forced labour, murder, medical experiments, hunger and disease. Josef Schuetz was 21 years old at the time of the events and he is now facing a five-year-old sentence.


ICC: Three Warrants of Arrest in the Situation in Georgia

On 30 June 2022, the Pre-Trial Chamber I composed of Judge Péter Kovács, Presiding Judge, Judge Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou and Judge María del Socorro Flores Liera granted the Prosecutor’s application of 10 March 2022. Consequently, the Chamber delivered three warrants of arrest on the basis that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the three suspects bear responsibility for war crimes. The arrest warrants relate to the 2008-armed conflict between Georgia and Russia. The charges are linked to the arrest of civilians perceived to be ethnically Georgian in South Ossetia. Allegedly, the civilians were later mistreated and kept in harsh detention conditions in a detention centre in Tskhinvali. The suspects are Mr Mikhail Mayramovich Mindzaev, Mr Gamlet Guchmazov and Mr David Georgiyevich Sanakoev. The Chamber directed the ICC Registrar to prepare a request for cooperation seeking the arrest and surrender of the suspects addressed to any relevant State.


Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosnian Serb Convicted for his Involvement in the Crimes in Srebrenica is Denied Plea for Early Release

On 30 June, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), the successor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), denied the early release request of Radivoje Miletic, the wartime head of the operations and training of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Main Headquarters, who is currently in jail in Finland. Miletic’s conviction relates to his involvement in the Srebrenica and Zepa killings of Bosniaks in 1995. While Miletic admits that his crimes were grave, he says that should not be the only factor to determine his early release. Miletic argued that he has been rehabilitated and that he “fully comprehends the gravity of the crimes for which he was sentenced, and his behaviour demonstrates full rehabilitation and reintegration into society.” For the IRMCT judges, however, these factors were not sufficient to grant Miletic early release. In the words of the outgoing President of the IRMCT, “although Miletic is eligible to be deemed for early release, there continue to be significant factors strongly militating against early release, including the high gravity of his crimes. In addition, I find that Miletic has failed to demonstrate sufficient signs of rehabilitation.”


France: French Prosecutors to Investigate Involvement of Group Castel in War Crimes in the Central African Republic

On 1 July 2022, French anti-terrorism prosecutors opened an investigation into the potential complicity in war crimes made against Group Castel in the Central African Republic. The drinks conglomerate is accused of having made payments to the local militia. A spokesperson of Group Castel said that the conglomerate was cooperating fully with the investigation and that a first investigation into the alleged involvement in war crimes had shown no evidence of wrongdoing. This investigation began with a report published by the Sentry in which the Group Castel’s subsidiaries had made deals with the armed militia, Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) to provide it with cash and vehicle support in order to secure the regional market position. Groupe Castel, headquartered in the Bordeaux region, is one of the world’s biggest wine and beverages conglomerates, selling some of Africa’s most popular beers.


ICC: The ICC Hosted a High-Level Conference to Mark the Court’s 20th Anniversary

On 1 July 2022, the ICC held a conference called “The ICC at 20: Reflections on the Past, Present and Future.” The Conferenced gathered around 300 participants in The Hague which included representatives of international organizations and tribunals, bar associations, States, academia, and civil society. The conference revolved around the achievements of the Court, its shortcomings and the development of the international criminal justice system moving forward. The ICC President, Judge Piotr Hofmański highlighted the developments in criminal law in areas such as the use of child soldiers, destruction of cultural heritage, and the participation of victims in the judicial proceedings. Following the remarks of the President, former ICC President and Chair of the Rome Conference of 1998, Judge Philippe Kirsch, noted that, while it is uncertain whether the ICC could be created today, without a doubt it is still needed as a staggering number of allegations of Rome Statute crimes are made and national systems are still unwilling or unable to prosecute such crimes. The sessions of the conference can be found on the Court’s YouTube channel and an edited volume will be published by an academic press.



Israel & Palestine: Legitimate Political Process Needed to Resolving Intensifying Conflict

On 27 June 2022, in response to the increasing violence in Palestine, Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, expressed his concern over the continues demonstration, clashes, settler violence and the firing of rocket from Gaza and stated that it was reminder of the fragile situation within the Palestinian territory. He also highlighted that the Israeli Government was in blatant violation of the UN resolution and international law in context of the seizure of the Palestinian owned structures and settlement activity. He also underscored that the recent attacks that occurred against civilians in Israel by Palestinian and Arab-Israelis should also be condemned and he urged that Israel should ease restrictions in order to facilities economic activity for Gazan workers in order to improve lives of Palestinian lives. He stated that a “legitimate political process” was the only solution for resolving the intensifying conflict and maintaining a permanent “state of calm” would be neither feasible nor sustainable.


Ukraine: Russian Missile Strike on Shopping Malls

On 27 June 2022, UN condemned the Russian missile strike on a shopping centre located in the eastern city of Kremenchuk, in which more than 1000 people were inside. The attack is known to have killed 18 people and injured dozens. More than 30 people are missing. During the weekend the capital city Kyiv was also hit again and a residential building was damaged, with some people being trapped in the debris. G7 leaders labelled Russia’s attack on a shopping centre in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, as a war crime and vowed to hold President Putin accountable. The German G7 presidency tweeted that “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime. Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held to account.” This attack prompted an emergency Security Council meeting in New York. The UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that the attack was “deplorable” and that civilian infrastructure should never be targeted. Upon examination of the scene, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said the bombing raises questions of possible crimes against humanity. After the attack, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Russia the world’s “largest terrorist organization.”



US & Mexico: Inhumane Migration Policies Put Migrants and Asylum Seekers at Risk while Looking for Safety

On 28 June 2022, the International Organisation on Migration and the United Nations Refugees Agency called for prompt investigations and prosecution of people responsible for the deaths of the migrants found dead in a lorry in San Antonio, Texas 250 kms from the US-Mexico Border. Though the circumstances surrounding the tragic incident are not known yet, at least bodies of 50 people have been recovered from the truck. Erika Guevara-Rosas, America’s director at Amnesty International stated that this tragic incident illustrated how the States failed on their part to provide protection to migrants and asylum seekers. She further emphasised that if there are no significant changes made in the migration policies of the United States and neighbouring states, this will continue to occur. She also stated that inhumane migration policies have been forcing migrants to take too risky routes and instead the states must prioritise human rights in the migration policies in order to protect their safety. IOM and UNHCR have continued to call for prompt action for reducing the loss of life along migratory routes across the globe by fostering regional cooperation, protecting the rights and lives of people migrating and addressing the drivers of displacement in consonance with objectives of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees.



UNICEF: In the Past 18 Years Grave Violations Against Children Have Increased

On 28 June 2022, the United Nations Children’s Fund released a report titled ‘25 years of children and armed conflict: Taking action to protect children in war’ which found that 104100 children have been either killed or maimed in armed conflict while more than 93,000 children have been recruited as child soldiers, and at least 25,700 children have been abducted while at least 14,200 children have been raped, forcibly married or sexually exploited by parties of the conflict. The report states that over 266,000 grave violations have been committed against children between the years 2005 and 2020 over 30 conflict situations. The number as reported by the agency is only a fraction of the violations that have occurred. On the basis of the sixteen years of data from the Secretary-General’s Annual report on Children and Armed Conflict, the report highlighted the trends of grave violations against children. 71 violations have been recorded on a daily average between the years of 2016 and 2020. The recommendation of the report aim is mobilising concerned stakeholders which includes parties to conflict, States and the UN Security Council for protecting children while also taking prompt action at a global, local and regional level.


DRC: Rebel Attacks Force Rwandans to Stay Indoors Due to Safety Concerns

On 29 June 2022, a material issued by Al Jazeera emphasized the security implications of Rwandans living in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since May 2022, the M23 rebel group has resumed operations against the military in the eastern part of the country. The Democratic Republic of Congo’s accusations over Rwanda’s alleged support towards the group stemmed anti-Rwandan demonstrations. In this respect, various graphic materials have propagated online.  Protesters primarily asked for the closure of the Rwanda embassy. Due to security concerns, Rwandan children are kept away from schools, while adults find going to the market unsafe, consequently losing their ability to attend work. The provincial commissioner of police, General Sylvano Kasongo, has condemned the anti-Rwandan protests, adding that orders were given to officials to ‘arrest anyone dressed in paramilitary outfits and adopting a threatening attitude.’


UNSC: MINUSMA Has Been Renewed for Another Year

On 29 June 2022, due to increasing concerns over Sahel security developments, the Security Council voted on the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for another year. At the same time, the Council requested an assessment of its cooperation with the host country’s authorities, the challenges it faces and options for the mission’s reconfiguration. At the same time, it expressed serious concerns over increasing allegations of violations of international law by the Malian Defence and Security Forces. Moreover, the decision of Mali to withdraw from all institutions of the Group of Five for the Sahel, corroborated by the French and other European withdrawals, were considered valid reasons for moving forward with the mission. The resolution was passed with 13 votes in favour, to none against and 2 abstentions.


Nigeria: Urgent Action Required for Avoiding Nutritional Crisis

On 30 June 2022, Médecins Sans Frontières called for an urgent improvement of the humanitarian response in the Borno State, in advance of the peak seasonal ‘hunger gap’ period. Since May, the organization has received an unprecedented influx of malnourished children to their nutrition centre in Maiduguri, Nigeria. The organization’s head of mission in Nigeria declared that preventive humanitarian action is required in order to avoid a dire situation. During this year, 2,140 malnourished children have been admitted for hospital care, a number of about 50 per cent bigger than that from the same period of last year. Médecins Sans Frontières has previously extended the existing capacity from 120 beds to 200, however the number of beds remained insufficient still.


UNSC: The Sanctions Regimes of the Democratic Republic of Congo Have Been Renewed

On 30 June 2022, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2641, renewing the sanctions regime imposed on that Democratic Republic of the Congo until 1 July 2023. The measures include an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze, subsequently requiring all States to refrain from actions such as providing weapons to non-governmental entities operating in the country. Moreover, the mandate of the Group of Experts in charge of overseeing its implementation has been extended until 1 August 2023. The resolution was passed with 10 votes in favour to none against and 5 abstentions. The procedure occurred in the light of the deteriorating security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After the vote, the Council members individually expressed their views regarding the notification requirement. Some representatives mentioned that such requirements impeded the capacity of the country to limit armed groups.


Libya: Demonstrations Against Government Filled the Streets of Several Cities

On 1 July 2022, protesters in the Libyan city of Tobruk stormed the parliament building, setting fires in front of the edifice. Witnesses stated that security forces protecting the parliament withdrew from the site. Since the 2014 east-west split, the parliament has been based in the city of Tobruk, located hundreds of kilometers east of the capital. Several cities have held such demonstrations, which were fueled by civilian dissatisfaction with government power outages. After several days of power cuts, alongside with the blockade of several oil facilities against the backdrop of political rivalries, several hundred people gathered to express their demands, criticizing armed factions and politicians, consequently requesting elections.  These represent the capital’s biggest protests against the elite in the last years. Moreover, Smaller protests of dozens of demonstrators also took place in some smaller towns.


Afghanistan: Women’s Rights Being Highly Undermined in the Region, with Women Taking out their Lives out of Desperation

On 1 July 2022, while addressing the Human Rights Council, Fawiza Koofi, the former deputy speaker of the Afghan Parliament highlighted the terrible state of women and how a dreadful toll had taken on their mental in Afghanistan because of the lack of facilities and each day at least one or two women were committing suicide because of lack of opportunity and treatment for mental health. Richard Bennett, the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Afghanistan while also addressing the Council stated that Taliban had been making women “invisible” by excluding them from the society completely. According to Ms. Koofi, the Taliban have deprived 55% of society from going to school under the guise of religion. Michelle Bachelet, UN human rights chief, echoing the international concern for Afghans, she also condemned the unemployment of women, the restrictions which were imposed on them accessing basic services and how they should dress. Ms. Bachelet highlighted that 1.2 million girls in the region were now unable to have access to secondary education after the de-facto authorities came to power in August 2021. Even though assurances had been given by the Taliban to the UN human rights chief in March 2022, “progressive exclusion “of women was still being witnesses from various public spheres. She underscored that an independent mechanism for receiving complaint should be established to receive complaint and to protect the victims of gender based violence.


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