Weekly News Recap (25-31 July 2022)

© Photo by Oxfam International via Flickr




Colombia: Special Jurisdiction for Peace Charges 19 Army Officials for 300 Murders

On 25 July 2022, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal, tasked with the investigation and prosecution of the war crimes committed during the 50-year-old conflict in Colombia, charged 19 army officials for the murder of 303 civilians in what came to be known as the false positive scandal. The murders took place between 2005 and 2008 and consisted of army officials killing civilians and presenting them as guerrilla fighters to inflate their effectiveness. This practice was motivated by special benefits and awards to the army members such as promotions, permits, special food, holiday plans, training classes abroad and recognition. In their decision, the judges of the JEP said that they have gathered enough information to charge 19 soldiers, an intelligence agent and two civilians for the crimes committed in the eastern Casanare region of Colombia. Among those responsible are a high-ranking army personnel, five colonels and one general. These cases fall within the broader context of false positive killings committed between 2002 and 2008 during the right-wing administration of former president Alvaro Uribe Velez; killings that according to the JEP amounted to more than 6,400 victims.


Nepal: Amended Transitional Justice Bill Falls Short of Protecting Victims’ Rights

On 25 July 2022, the Nepali government amended its current transitional justice law, leading to greater accountability for international crimes. However, the current form of the law still shields perpetrators from being brought to justice. This in turn means that Nepal is not fulfilling its obligations under international law. The transitional justice process in Nepal has been stalled since 2015 and victims struggle to obtain justice, truth, and reparations. Even though questionable provisions in the transitional justice bill related to amnesties will be removed, serious violations of international law like war crimes are very difficult to sue. Likewise, under this new law, there are new limitations on the right to appeal. By keeping this transitional justice bill as it is, the government of Nepal maintains the many obstacles in the transitional justice process, leaving victims without remedy.


Russia: Russian Investigator Says 92 Ukrainians Will Face Charges for Alleged War Crimes

On 25 July 2022, the head of Russia’s investigative committee Alexander Bastrykin announced that 92 members of the Ukrainian armed forces will be charged with crimes against humanity committed in the context of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. According to the Russian official, this investigation covers at least 1,300 crimes committed since the start of the conflict. Apart from these 92 individuals, another 96 people including 51 armed forces commanders are also wanted by the Russian authorities. At the same time, the Kremlin has denied any involvement in war crimes in Ukraine instead blaming Ukraine for the shelling of its own infrastructure and killings of its own people. These claims have been widely dismissed by international leaders. Regarding the indictment of the 92 Ukrainian nationals, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said that the charges relate to the involvement of these 92 individuals in hostilities with no clear evidence of war crimes and that “the Geneva Conventions clearly state that prisoners of war, including members of armed forces, are protected from prosecution for taking part in hostilities […] if the Russian authorities try prisoners of war on these charges, they will violate the Third Geneva Convention.”



ICC: The Pre-Trial Chamber I Orders the Prosecutor to Justify Closing Colombia’s Preliminary Examination

On 26 July, the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) rejected a request submitted by a human rights organisation on behalf of the victims in Colombia, to review and reverse the Prosecutor’s decision to close Colombia’s preliminary examination. The Chamber found that the prosecutor has an obligation under Article 15(6) of the Statute to promptly inform the public of the reasons for closing their preliminary examination. The Prosecutor must therefore explain why continuing the preliminary examination did not serve the interest of justice in more detail, especially considering that the preliminary examination lasted from 2004 to 2021 and that victims have provided information throughout that period. The Chamber, therefore, found that the information provided by the Prosecutor when closing the preliminary examination did not constitute “sufficient information” on the reasons for the closure, in particular, “in light of the length of the preliminary examination and the expectations it may have raised for those who provided information prior to, or during the preliminary examination.”



Germany: Court Hands Down Second Judgement for Genocide Against ISIS Member

On 27 July 2022, the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg convicted a German national who was a member of ISIS. Jalda A. was found to be responsible for aiding and abetting genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The charges were linked to the abuse committed against a young Yazidi woman. The sentence was for five years and six months. This is the second conviction for the crime of genocide in German courts that relates to the violence committed against the Yazidi ethno-religious minority in Iraq and Syria. “M” the Yazidi woman that was the victim of the crimes, was also the key witness of the case and a co-plaintiff. The facts of the case indicate that the defendant travelled from Germany to Syria in 2014, where she married several ISIS high-ranking fighters, one of whom kept M as a sex and household slave in 2017. The Court found that, through her actions against M, the defendant aided and abetted ISIS members to destroy the Yazidi ethno-religious group, conduct that amounted to the crime of genocide.


ICC: The Pre-Trial Chamber II Issues a Public Redacted Version of the Arrest Warrant for Mahamat Nouradine Adam

On 28 July 2022, the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) issued the public redacted version of a warrant of arrest against Mahamat Nouradine Adam for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the context of the second investigation by the ICC in the situation in the Central African Republic (CARII). The accused, also known as “Nouredine Adam”, “Nourredine Adam”, “Nureldine Adam”, “Nourreldine Adam” and “Nourreddine Adam”, was born in Ndele (CAR) and was the Minister of Security, Emigration and Immigration, and Public Order in 2013. He was also the founder of the Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix – Fondamentale (CPJP-F). Mahamat Nouradine Adam is suspected of the crimes of, inter alia, imprisonment, torture, persecution, and cruel treatment, that were allegedly committed by the Central Office for the Repression of Banditry and the Extraordinary Committee for the Defence of Democratic Achievements, under his administration between 12 April and 27 November 2013.


Ukraine: Authorities Appeal to the ICC After Prison Attack

On 29 July 2022, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister condemned the attack on a prison in the territory held by separatists and appealed to the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) over the attacks that he classified as Russian war crimes. In the words of the Minister, the crimes committed by Russia consisted of the “shelling of penal institutions in Occupied Olenivka, where it is believed that Ukrainian prisoners of war were held.” Russia, on the other hand, has denied all involvement in any war crimes in Ukraine and claims that the attacks that killed 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were committed by Ukraine.


Ukraine: Court Lowers Russian Soldier’s War Crime Sentence from Life to 15 Years

On 30 July 2022, an Appeals court in Kyiv reduced the sentence from life imprisonment to 15 years for the Russian soldier convicted in the first war crimes trial since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. This trial has been closely followed as a first test to determine whether Ukraine is capable of conducting fair trials despite the ongoing conflict with Russia and with thousands of war crime cases still to proceed. The Appeals court, in this case, considered it appropriate to lower the sentence of a 21-year-old who pleaded guilty to killing a civilian and collaborated with authorities.



UN: Slow Political Processes and Worsening Economy Affect the Basic Fundamental Rights in Libya

On 25 July 2022, Martha Pobee, UN Assistant Secretary-General for political affairs while briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Libya, mentioned that the economic situation has worsened, which has highly affected the fundamental rights of the people and also hampered their access to essential services like food, water, sanitation, education and healthcare. The electoral process has hit a halt and the constitutional and political processes are stagnant. No agreement has been reached on the eligibility requirements for a presidential candidate. She further underscored that the international community and the United Nations should continue to provide tbeir support in finding an agreeable solution which could put an end to the continued economic and political crisis in the country.


OHCHR: Myanmar’s Military Junta Executes Four Pro-Democracy Activists

On 25 July 2022, upon receiving reports of the execution of four pro-democracy activists by Myanmar’s military junta, the UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet expressed her grave concern and stated that the incident was an example of the junta’s “ongoing repressive campaign” against its own people. The four men executed were sentenced to death in January and April for helping insurgents fight the army for seizing power in a coup on February 1 2021. The previous execution of a pro-democracy activist, student leader Salai Tin Maung Oo, was carried out in 1976 when Myanmar was under the dictator Ne Win’s rule. Despite international calls for clemency of the four men, the executions were carried out anyway. Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur, stated that the executions were in clear violation of the international human rights law, while also calling for a “strong action” against the continued murder of protestors and executions of opposition leaders.


UNICEF: Hygiene Kits and Life-Saving Supplies Delivered by the Agency to Help 50 000 Children in Odesa City

On 26 July 2022, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that life-saving supplies to Odesa, Ukraine had been delivered to help 50, 000 children. The supplies include hygiene kits and water purification equipment to provide clean water for drinking. The supplies would assist 110,000 people and keep 14,000 children healthy. The supplies would also further improve the living condition of the families and children who have been internally displaced. The agency was able to deliver the supplies to the city with the help of 27 trucks and according to UNICEF Ukraine Representative Murat Sahin, the life-saving supplies are crucial so that the vulnerable families can be supported.   



UNSC: Continued Demolition of Palestinian Structures, Deteriorating Economy and Continued Violence Remains in the West Bank region

On 26 July 2022, Lynn Hastings, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) urged that there was a need for “reversing the negative trends” in the occupied West Bank region and protecting Palestinian People. She also highlighted that there was no change “in the structural reality” and stated that there had been 399 demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures in 2022 have displaced 400 Palestinians. The deteriorating economy, along with disunity among Palestinians has further compounded the situation in the region. Ms. Hastings also underscored that to bring back the political process in the region collective effort is required on part of the international community. The Palestinian communities have also been affected by the decision of the Israeli High Court for demolishing Palestinian-owned structures which has led Israeli forces to take restrictive measures against them. Ms. Hastings underscored that if the situation is not addressed urgently, it could further deteriorate while also highlighting that “a legitimate political process” would only resolve the root causes of the conflict.


DRC: Four Protesters Electrocuted After Troops Hit an Electric Cable

On 27 July 2022, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and local authorities announced that four civilians were electrocuted in the city of Uvira during anti-UN demonstrations. According to the officials, troops fired shots that hit an electric cable that eventually fell on the injured citizens. The manifestations started a day before, fuelled by civilians’ dissatisfaction with the efficiency of the mission. The actions were called by a faction of the youth wing of President Felix Tshisekedi’s UDPS ruling party that accused the authorities of failing to protect them from militia violence. On the first day, the lives of at least 12 civilians, one UN soldier, and two UN police officers were ended. The protests were generally dispersed in Goma and Butembo by the following day. Nevertheless, they had spread to Uvira, a city located in South Kivu province, where crowds threw rocks at a mission’s compound. The regional governor Theo Ngwabidje confirmed the veracity of the information, referring to the situation as an “isolated demonstration in Uvira.” Consequently, he added that preliminary information suggested the bullets had come from within the MONUSCO base, claiming, “Calm had been restored by mid-afternoon.”


Iraq: Thousands of Supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr Stormed Baghdad’s Empty Parliament

On 27 July 2022, days after Shi’ite political decision-makers indicated a possible agreement on a potential prime minister, the Iraqi parliament building was stormed by thousands of supporters of populist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Moreover, Iraq reached a record of 290 days without a head of state or cabinet, marking its longest post-election deadlock since 2010. Nine months after the latest election, disagreements between lawmakers and infighting among Shi’ite and Kurdish groups impede the formation of a government, the nomination of a president and the installation of a prime minister. The troublesome circumstances left Iraq without a budget for 2022, holding up spending on much-needed infrastructure projects and economic reform. The situation further hampers state reforms needed for the recovery from decades of conflict as Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi continues to run the country and is bound to keep his role as a caretaker until new elections can be held. Civilians claim that the deadlock fuels further shortages of services and jobs. In 2019, a similar situation has prompted mass protests across Baghdad and southern Iraq. 


Sri Lanka: World Bank Will Not Provide Any Additional Financing 

On 28 July 2022, the World Bank released a statement emphasizing the organization’s concerns regarding the impact of the economic situation on the people of Sri Lanka. The organization announced it is in the process of repurposing resources under existing loans. However, it emphasized the fact that it does not plan to offer new financing to Sri Lanka. The organization mentioned that any new financial aid would be dependent on the establishment of an adequate macroeconomic policy framework. In this respect, the organization highlighted that deep structural reforms focusing on economic stabilization are required. Moreover, it pointed to the need of ensuring that Sri Lanka’s future recovery and development is resilient and inclusive in addressing the root structural causes that created the crises. The organization added that it would continue to monitor these aspects closely, while also cooperating with other development partners with the purpose of providing maximal support to civilians. 


Myanmar: G7 Foreign Ministers Express Deep Concern Over the Situation in the Country

On 28 July 2022, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union issued a statement condemning the four executions orchestrated by the military junta in Myanmar. The four persons executed were prominent members of the democratic opposition. The officials emphasize that their executions and the absence of fair trials show the junta’s aversion toward the democratic aspirations of the citizens.  Moreover, the statement calls for the immediate cease of the military’s use of violence, urging them to refrain from further arbitrary executions, to free all political prisoners and those arbitrarily detained and to return the country to a democratic path. The ministers jointly claimed that they continue to support efforts made by ASEAN, and the United Nations. Consequently and the meaningful implementation of the aspects of the ASEAN Five Point Consensus is required, which includes an inclusive process of dialogue with a broad range of opposition. Moreover, the statement remembers that the powers encourage effective coordination between the ASEAN and Special Envoy and the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Myanmar.


UNHCR:  Despite Growing Malnutrition and Displacement Across the Globe Inclusion of Refugees in National Health Policies Continues

On 29 July 2022, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) released its 2021 Annual Public Health Global review, in which the agency surveyed 93 sites and highlighted its concern regarding the health and nutrition of refugees. The review highlighted the extreme levels of acute malnutrition and critical levels which were recorded at 14 per cent of locations. Sajjad Malik, Director for the Division of Resilience and Solutions at UNHCR, stated that the rates of malnutrition were concerning as the survey was conducted before the Ukraine war and the increase in food prices. The achievements recorded by the review highlighted that there was an increase in the inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers in the health plan from 62 per cent in 2019 to 76 per cent in 48 countries that were surveyed. Furthermore, 4.79 million vaccination doses were administered to 3.25 million refugees, along with 162 countries including them in their vaccination plans. According to the review, 7.6 million refugees were able to receive healthcare facilities with the support of the government and UNHCR.


UNHCR: 10 Years After the Opening, Jordan’s Za’atari Refugee Camp Still Shelters 80,000 People 

On 29 July 2022, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) published an article emphasizing the ten-year anniversary of the Za’atari refugee camp. The camp was established when a group of 450 Syrians crossed the border into Jordan and became its first inhabitants. The camp’s population grew to 120,000 people just within a year. Over the years, 20,000 births have been recorded in Za’atari. Ten years later, the number of inhabitants stabilized at around 80,000 people, making it not only the largest refugee camp in the Middle East but also in the world. Moreover, it is considered a symbol of the long-running Syrian refugee crisis. In 2013, the initially established tents were replaced by static caravans with a resistance expected between six to eight years, meaning that current conditions are considered sub-standard. The camp currently comprises 1,800 shops, 8 medical facilities that provide free healthcare, more than 30 organizations and is powered by solar electricity. Unfortunately, only four per cent of the camp’s refugees hold work permits.  


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