Weekly News Recap (1-7 August 2022)

© Photo by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid via Flickr




CJEU: Overloaded Migrant Rescue Ships Cannot be Impounded by the National Maritime Authorities

On 1 August 2022, in a case of two Sea Watch ships being halted for inspection by the Italian maritime authorities in the summer of 2020, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled that search and rescue ships cannot be impounded on the ground of being overcrowded. The ships were impounded by the authorities on the ground that they had accommodated more people on board than they were authorised for and were “not certified in respect of search and rescue activities at sea.” The court held that the national authorities can inspect a ship but they have to indicate that there were “serious indications of a danger to health, safety, on-board working conditions or the environment.”  The Court observed that the ships were classified as cargo ships and were often used for search and rescue work under the German flag. Thus, the authorities did not have the power to demand certificates other than those issued by the flag State.



Ukraine: Three Britons to Stand Trial in a Russian Proxy Court in Eastern Ukraine

On 2 August 2022, a Russian state news agency reported that three Britons, John Harding, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill, will stand trial in the Moscow-backed Supreme Court of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Alongside two other foreign citizens, they will be tried as “foreign citizens accused of being mercenaries.” According to the prosecutors, all the five foreign citizens were members of the Azov battalion and other military units captured in Mariupol. Last month the Donetsk court sentenced two British men, Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, to death. The Judgment was highly condemned and the European Court of Human Rights was forced to intervene in the case.


USA: Independence Day Parade Suspect Pleaded Guilty

On 3 August 2022, in the case of a mass shooting that happened during an Independence Day parade in the United States, the suspect pleaded guilty. Seven people died during the mass shooting and several others were wounded. Robert E Crimo III appeared before Lake County’s circuit court to enter a formal plea to the charges of 21 counts of first-degree murder, 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery representing those killed and wounded during the parade in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago. The grand jury had indicted him last week on 117 felony counts for the attack. Crimo has been under arrest since the day of the mass shooting. If he is convicted on the murder charges, he may face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.


Russia: US Basketball Player Brittney Griner Sentenced to 9 Year Jail Term for Drug Smuggling

On 4 August 2022, a Russian court sentenced US basketball player Brittney Griner to nine years of jail term. Griner was found guilty of drug smuggling. According to Judge Anna Sotnikova, “a significant amount of narcotics” was found in Griner’s possession. She was fined an amount of one million rubles ($16,300). The US President condemned the verdict and called it “unacceptable.” Biden called for releasing Griner and stated that the administration will continue to work toward bringing Griner and Paul Whelan, another American prisoner, back home. The defence team and the US Department of State will now be focusing on the proposed prisoner swap. The swap would include the athlete and Viktor Bout, an imprisoned Russian arms dealer.


Myanmar: Japanese Journalist Charged with Breach of Immigration Laws and Dissent Against the Army

On 4 August 2022, a Japanese journalist was arrested and charged by Myanmar for breaching immigration laws and encouraging dissent against the army. According to the military administration, Toru Kubota was arrested while covering a protest in Yangon, in accordance with section 505 (a) which criminalises encouraging dissent and under immigration law 13-1 which carries a maximum jail term of five years. He was transferred from police custody to Yangon’s Insein Prison after the charges were filed. Kubota is the fifth foreign journalist that has been arrested in Myanmar. All of the formerly arrested journalists were released and deported. Myanmar has restrained press freedom since the coup last year.


France: Court Suspends the Deportation Order of Imam Hassan Iquioussen

On 5 August 2022, a Paris Administrative Court decided to suspend the expulsion order of a France-born Moroccan Imam. He was accused of spreading hate and posing a threat to society. The French government began the procedure for expulsion in May, to send Mr Iquoiussen to Morocco, where he never lived and publicly criticised the King. Mr Iquioussen appealed the decision to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and on 4 August the court rejected his request for suspension of the deportation order. The Court observed that considering the threat to public order, the government’s measures for Mr Iquioussen’s deportation to Morocco were not disproportionate. However, the administrative court of Paris suspended the expulsion order the next day. The Judge observed that there was no evidence to prove the state’s accusations against the Imam and further agreed with the Imam’s lawyer who stated that all statements made by the Imam were taken out of context by the government and did not amount to “provocation of hatred.” The court observed a statement that contravened with the standards but later held that it could not solely justify the expulsion order.



Malaysia: Court Overturned the High Court’s Citizenship Ruling

On 5 August 2022, the Appeals court of Malaysia overturned the High Court’s ruling which gave women equivalent rights to that of men, i.e. conferring citizenship on their overseas-born children. In a two-one majority, the court overturned the High Court’s decision and stated that Article 14(1)(b) of the Constitution expressly gave fathers the right to confer citizenship on their children born overseas. It completely omits any mention of the mothers. This case was brought by a group of Malaysian women who challenged the discriminatory nature of the Article. The Court observed that the High Court cannot change the Constitution as the Parliament must make such amendments. Considering the current status of the Article, mothers cannot pass on the Malaysian nationality to their overseas-born children. Malaysia is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995, but it made a reservation on CEDAW in matters of nationality. The government believes that the amendment on gender equality does not extend to nationality and the matters of citizenship are outside the jurisdiction of the courts.


Bosnia: Court Rejected State Prosecution’s Appeal and Confirmed Malko Koroman’s Acquittal

On 5 August 2022, in the case of Malko Koroman, the court rejected the state prosecution’s appeal and declared it to be unfounded. It further confirmed Koroman’s acquittal. He was accused of committing war crimes in the Pale region in 1992. As chief of the Public Security Station in Pale, he was accused of the unlawful detention of Bosniak civilians and for torturing and abusing detainees between April and September 1992. The Court observed that there was no link between Koroman being the chief of Public Security and the unlawful detentions of civilians. Furthermore, it had not been established that he supervised the arrests or the torture committed on detainees. It was also not proved that the members of the Public Security Station were under his command. The Court held that the prosecution did not prove that the defendant was responsible for the alleged war crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.



UN: With an Increase in Civilian Casualties Witnessed, Yemen’s Truce is Renewed for the Next Two Months

On 1 August 2022, Save the Children reported that there have been killings of 38 children in the final week of the UN-mandated truce, which has been recorded as the highest number of casualties of children in a week, since early 2020. There has also been an increase in armed violence, which killed 232 civilians including 57 children. Overall, the truce has had a considerable impact by bringing civilian casualties down to 53 per cent and child casualties to 30 per cent. Unfortunately, as the truce nears its end, July alone had a rise of 52 per cent in civilian casualties. Furthermore, even though a rise in casualties has been witnessed, the truce has been renewed for additional 2 months, according to Hans Grundberg, who is part of the UN Special Envoy for the country. According to the UN Envoy, the purpose of the truce is to provide concrete relief to the civilians, while also creating an environment to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the conflict through a proper political process.  




UNICEF: New Global Alliance to End HIV/AIDS among Children Launched to Address the Existing Disparities in Response to AIDS

On 1 August 2022, a Global Alliance on ending HIV/AIDS among children by 2030 was launched at the International AIDS Conference, which took place in Montreal, Canada. According to the UNAIDS Global AIDS Update of 2022, 52 per cent of children living with the disease worldwide are on lifesaving treatment. This figure is still lower than the number of adults receiving lifesaving treatment, which is at 76 per cent. “Children around the world are still far less likely than adults to have access to HIV prevention, care and treatment services,” stressed UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. The alliance has set a goal to reduce the disparities in lifesaving treatment between children and adults that exist in AIDS Response, announced UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who currently serves as WHO Director General, underlined that the Global Alliance is an opportunity to renew the commitment of the international community toward children.


WHO: Hunger Crisis Could Turn into Health Crisis in the Horn of Africa

On 2 August 2022, the UN reported that the Horn of Africa is facing the worst hunger crisis in the last 70 years. This implies that more than 37 million people are being projected to reach the third level of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification Scale (IPC3). The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that disease and death can be prevented in the region by responding rapidly to the crisis. The situation in regions like South Sudan has been compounded by continuous flooding, with almost 40 per cent of the country being flooded according to WHO Incident Manager, Sophie Maes. At the same time, there are places in South Sudan which are facing droughts and unpredictable weather for the past four consecutive seasons. In the regions of East and South Ethiopia, as well as, North Kenya, severe effects of drought are being witnessed as well. According to the WHO, there is an increase in migration because of acute malnutrition due to disruptions in food accessibility, outbreaks of various diseases and worsening hygienic conditions. The agency has called for $123.7 million in humanitarian aid to respond to the health and primary care needs to avoid the health crisis developing into a hunger crisis.


UNEP: Two Major West American Reservoirs are Drying Up, Putting Water and Hydroelectric Power at Risk

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is concerned that two of America’s largest water reservoirs Lake Powell and Lake Mead have a dangerously low water levels. The ongoing climate change likely is one of the major drivers of this development. As a huge portion of the American and Mexican population is dependent on the water and electricity the lakes provide, the situation is more than serious. The levels in the reservoirs have already reached a so-called “dead pool status” which means that the water in the dams will not be able to flow downstream to power hydroelectric power stations. Lis Mullin Bernhardt, an ecosystems expert at UNEP, stated that the same conditions are being observed in the drying up of the Colorado River which flows through Colorado, Utah, and Arizona into Northwestern Mexico. For the past 20 years, the river has shown significant signs of ‘aridification.’ The UNEP stated that drought-like conditions and desertification are becoming the new normal from the United States to Europe to Africa. In this way, the consequences of climate change are affecting millions of people worldwide. According to Maria Morgado, UNEP’s Ecosystems Officer for North America, the root causes of climate change along with increased water demand need to be addressed to guarantee the long-term security of the water supply.


UNHCR: Experts Called for an International Investigation into the Beirut Explosion 

On the eve of the second anniversary of the Beirut explosion, a group of UN experts urged the Human Rights Council to start an international investigation into the event. On 4 August 2020 shortly after 6 pm, a stockpile of ammonium nitrate stored in a port warehouse exploded, destroying 77,000 apartments, wounding 7,000 people, displacing over 300,000 more, and leaving at least 80,000 children homeless. Moreover, 200 civilians were killed, and a vast area of the city was decimated. The unfortunate incident is remembered as “one of the largest non-nuclear blasts.” However, its causes and circumstances were not properly investigated, and responsibility for the explosion has yet to be established. In the aftermath of the explosion, 37 human rights experts issued a joint statement, yet Lebanese civilians continue to await justice. Investigation attempts were blocked several times and an appeal to the Human Rights Council was initiated. According to the experts, the explosion highlighted the “systemic problems of negligent governance and widespread corruption”. Following the explosion, the Lebanese government has been unable to provide safe access to fuel, electricity, medicine and clean water. Moreover, the national currency has lost more than 95 per cent of its original value over the past two years, worsening the economic situation for Beirut’s citizens. The World Bank referred to the current developments in the city as a “prolonged and deliberate depression caused by authorities themselves.”


ICRC: Statement Clarifies the Organization’s Involvement with the Prisoners of War of Ukraine

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published a statement addressing the Olenivka attack. Primarily, the organisation expressed condolence towards the targeted families and stressed that it strongly condemns attacks on all prisoners of war. Upon learning about the attack, the ICRC requested immediate access to the Olenivka penal facility and all adjacent ones. However, they were not granted access and the request for access remains unanswered. The ICRC is prepared to act, given that they already have teams working in nearby areas since 2014. The circumstances surrounding the Olenivka attack remain ambiguous. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the prisoners include members of the Azov battalion. On 29 July 2022, during an attack on a prison facility in the Russian-occupied Donetsk, allegedly 40 prisoners were killed and many others, whose numbers remain unknown, wounded. Russia and Ukraine accused each other, as the Ukrainian forces claimed that the Russian military used the attack to hide that the men held there had been tortured and murdered. However, the Russian forces accused their opponents of striking the prison with US-made Himars rockets. 



SORD: Several Civil Society Organisations from Sudan Assist Civilians Affected by Clashes in Blue Nile State

In cooperation with various other civil society organisations, the Sudanese Organization for Research and Development (SORD), delivered the second batch of relief items to the Youth Training Centre in El Roseires, located near the Blue Nile State of Sudan. On site, a special committee was instructed to coordinate the distribution of the items. The batch included medical equipment, clothing, and personal hygiene aids. Moreover, the Director of SORD, Hanan Khamees acknowledged and congratulated the efforts undertaken by the Blue Nile Women’s Network for Peace and Development and the Sudan Women’s Network for their “creative initiatives.” In the city, thousands of people sought refuge, after they fled fierce inter-communal fighting. On 25 July 2022, unconfirmed reports mentioned that approximately 31,000 people were displaced by the clashes, out of which 12,600 sought shelter in Ed Damazin and El Roseires.


UNFPA: Ten Projects that Won the First-Ever Joint Innovation Challenge Were Announced

On 4 August 2022, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA) announced the ten winners of the Joint Innovation Challenge. The contest awarded ten women-centred organizations from five different regions. The competition’s mission was to fund social enterprises for the development of innovative solutions that “advance the empowerment of women and girls worldwide.” Moreover, the project was supported by UNFPA’s Equalizer Accelerator Fund and implemented in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Trade Centre (ITC.) Innovations such as a portable diagnostic system for pre-eclampsia or board games that disseminate information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, received funding. The winners were chosen from 300 submissions, out of which 20 finalists pitched to an expert panel. In the end, only 10 winners signed nine-month contracts with UNFPA and received an investment of USD 60,000. Among the ten winners, are associations such as the Foundation Paniamor from Costa Rica, GerHub from Mongolia, the Impact Innovations Institute from Armenia or Women in Entrepreneurship and Technology (WETECH) from Cameroon. 


UNICEF: Increased Gang-Violence in Haiti Hampers Access to Healthcare Services for Children at Risk of Malnutrition

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that the recent intensification of gang-related violence in Cité Soleil, a densely populated slum in Port-au-Prince Haiti, has left 20 children at risk of dying from acute malnutrition, as gang violence has caused health services in the district to shut down. UNICEF stated that according to the new data released,  20 per cent of the children, who are under the age of five, are suffering from severe or moderate acute malnutrition. That is five per cent higher than the emergency threshold mandated by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Bruno Maes, UNICEF Haiti Representative, emphasises that the violence needs to stop in the district so that malnourished children can have access to medical assistance that they urgently require to survive. He further urged that thousands of kids were at risk of dying without access to adequate medical care. To prevent a further decline in the nutrition and health state of mothers and children in the region, UNICEF has been providing support by treating acute malnutrition, providing micronutrient supplementation, and assisting infant and young child feeding practices at health facility and community levels.  In cooperation with the Ministry of Health (MSPP) of Haiti, UNICEF has proposed to provide ready-to-use therapeutic food, therapeutic milk and essential medicine to provide life-saving treatments to malnourished children. Until now 1,918 children have received life-saving treatment and 9,506 have been screened for acute malnutrition. UNICEF has deployed two mobile health clinics in the Bois Neuf and Belekou neighbourhoods of Cité Soleil to uphold the medical and nutritional care to more than 500 people, of which the majority are women and children.


MSF: Testimonies Uncovered Alleged Violence Committed by Hungarian Authorities Against People Crossing the Border with Serbia

On 5 August 2022, a press release issued by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) stated that according to patient testimonies and medical data, people are being denied access to basic services, beaten, and humiliated in their attempts to cross the border between Hungary and Serbia. Allegedly, these human rights violations were committed by Hungarian authorities. Andjela Marcetic, a MSF doctor in Serbia, emphasised the consistency and regularity of the violent incidents. She mentioned that the MSF medical staff treats severe wounds every week. Since January 2021, there has been 423 patients with similar patterns of beatings, who reported being denied access to basic needs, as well as harassment, at the Serbian-Hungarian border. Shahbaz Israr Khan, MSF head of mission in the North Balkans, declared that such instances prove that “the European Union member states continue to intentionally use violence and harmful infrastructure to deter people from seeking asylum in the European Union.”  He added that such actions harm civilians not only physically and psychologically, but also push them towards more dangerous routes. 


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