Weekly News Recap (8-14 August 2022)

© Photo by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid via Flickr




IIMM: Widespread Systemic Violence and Crimes Against Humanity Continue in Myanmar

On 9 August 2022, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) has released its Annual Report, which stated that security forces and armed groups in the country have committed various sexual, gender-based crimes and crimes against children. The Head of the Mechanism, Nicholas Koumjian stated that the “crimes against women and children are amongst the gravest international crimes” and remain “historically underreported and under-investigated”. More than three million pieces of information have been collected from 200 sources since the past three years. They include interview statements, documentation, videos, photographs etc. The report has furthermore highlighted that, since the military coup took place in February 2021, the committed crimes can be seen as a “widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population”. The UN Official further stated that evidence is being collected, so that the perpetrators can one day be held accountable for their crimes.


Peru: Spanish Court is Processing Extradition Request of Peruvian Ex-Military Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity

On 9 August 2022, the Peruvian authorities filed an extradition request to a Spanish court seeking to prosecute a former ex-military member for alleged crimes against humanity committed in the context of the country’s conflict between the army and Maoist guerrillas in the 1980s. The individual, Augusto Gabilondo is a former lieutenant of the Peruvian military. He was detained and later freed on parole but must report to a Spanish court every two weeks. His passport is being withheld and he may not leave the Country. Gabilondo was the head of a military base during the 1980s when the military and the Shining Path insurgency were parties to a non-international armed conflict in Peru. Gabilondo was found responsible and sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment for the disappearance of a man by Peruvian authorities and was scheduled to face another trial when he went missing and was found in Spain.


Seychelles: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Will File a Report of Its Findings

On 9 August 2022, the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) of Seychelles will file a report presenting an overview of the evidence analysed, a legal framework and the case determination, along with recommendations on amnesty and reparations. The report will not be complete as individual case determinations will remain pending. Due to limited capacity, not all 373 individual case determinations have been completed. Added to the limited capacity of the TRNUC is the delay from information providers. Therefore, in the next months, the Commission will focus on finishing the individual case determinations to complete the final report.



Montenegro: Prosecutors Launch War Crimes Probe Against Former Military Chief

On 9 August 2022, an investigation began against retired admiral Dragan Samardzic, the former Chief of the Army General Staff for his alleged involvement in war crimes committed against civilians in November 1991 in Split, Croatia. This investigation follows the newspaper report from Vijesti called “Split shelling and the role of Dragan Samardzic.” This report has led to anonymous threats towards journalist Sinisa Lukovic. According to the report, on 15 November 1991, Samardzic took part in the shelling of Split and nearby islands, resulting in the death of two civilians and the destruction of civilian and cultural objects. This incident led to the conviction of 31 members of the Yugoslav Navy before Croatian Courts; Samardzic was not among them.


Bosnia and Herzegovina: Outrage of Victims’ Associations as Individual Sentenced for War Crimes is Not Serving His Sentence

On 11 August 2022, victims’ associations were appalled to learn that Sakib Mahmuljin, the former commander of the Third Corps of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ABiH, is not serving his sentence in Bosnia but instead is undergoing medical treatment in Turkey. This has been considered by some Bosnian organizations as an escape due to negligence of the court, however the State Court says that he was not sent to Turkey to serve his prison sentence but to undergo treatment. Milorad Kojic, director of the Center for Research on War, War Crimes, and the Search for Missing Persons of Republika Srpska, finds that, by not imposing prohibition measures upon leaving Bosnia, the Court enabled Mahmuljin “to escape under the pretext of treatment.” Kojic said the Court should request Mahmuljin’s extradition from Turkey, and an international warrant. “This is a classic escape with the aim of avoiding serving an eight-year sentence,” Kojic said.


The Netherlands: Syrian War Crimes Suspect Was Arrested in The Netherlands

On 12 August 2022, 34-year-old Mustafa A., who has denied all charges brought against him concerning alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria in 2013, had his first hearing before Dutch courts. Mustafa A. said the allegations were “a made-up story.” While he confirmed that he indeed joined Liwa al-QWud, a militia that works jointly with the Syrian and Russian armed forces, he defended the camp where he was born. Following this statement, Mustafa A.’s lawyer asked the court to release him from custody, as he has been under arrest since the end of May. His request for release, on the grounds of his involvement in the alleged crimes, however, is a matter that must be decided at trial, the Court said. According to the prosecutor, this is the first time someone suspected to have sided with the Syrian regime has been arrested in the Netherlands.



UN: Ceasefire Welcomed by Palestinian Islamic Jihadists and Israel after Three Days of Continuous Violence

On 8 August 2022, in the aftermath of three days of intense fighting, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to evaluate the ceasefire that has been reached between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza. Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, urged that all parties should comply with the ceasefire, while further highlighting that the ceasefire has an considerable impact on the prevention of a “full-scale war” in the region. Since 4 August 2022, 147 air strikes have been conducted by the Israeli Defence Forces against targets in Gaza, while Palestinian militants have unleashed 1,100 rockets and mortars into Israel. After the violence ended, 46 Palestinians were killed and 360 injured. On the Israeli side 70 were injured along with various civilian structures being damaged. The ceasefire has been welcomed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) after continuous violence for three days in Gaza. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Prime Minister of Israel also announced that the ceasefire would come into effect at 11:30 pm local time on 7 August.


UNFPA: Collapsing Healthcare Systems in Sri Lanka Are Putting Sexual and Reproductive Health of Women at Risk

On 8 August 2022, the UN Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency (UNFPA) issued a statement highlighting that it was committed to fulfil the health and protection needs of women and girls in crisis-hit Sri Lanka. Kunle Adeniyi, UNFPA representative in Sri Lanka, further stated that the focus of the agency is to strengthen the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women along with providing gender-based violence response services. The agency has appealed for $10.7 million to meet the needs of two million women and girls in Sri Lanka and provide them with better sexual and reproductive health care facilities. With the ongoing crisis the country’s healthcare system is on the edge of collapsing. An increased decline in the access to maternal healthcare and contraception has been witnessed. A UN survey conducted in May highlighted that women and girls were more vulnerable to violence because of their reduced access to healthcare facilities, police and shelter. The UNFPA has planned to distribute medicine, equipment and supplies, which would include emergency and obstetric care, to meet the reproductive health needs of 1.2 million women and girls on an urgent basis. The UNFPA also aims at providing and supporting 12,500 women with livelihood programming, a measure that has the potential to reduce the risks of gender-based violence (GBV). In addition, the agency is supporting ten shelters for expanding their services for survivors of GBV. The response efforts of UNFPA are part of the Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan, which has been launched by the UN in Sri Lanka. It has also called for $47 million in funds in order to support 1.7 million people between the months of July and September.


Africa: Inclusivity is the Key to Sustain Peace and Capacity Building

On 8 August 2022, Cristina Duarte, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Africa, briefed ambassadors in the UN Security Council on examining capacity building for sustaining peace in Africa. She highlighted that the efforts made by African countries in maintaining peace and combatting violence were to a large extent undermined by factors such as an increased competition over natural resources, along with a rising presence of global terrorist networks. She further underscored that financial and policy constraints were major challenges. At the same time, there was a need for more cooperation among different UN organs and areas of work. She also emphasised that cooperation was required not only from a security outlook, but also from an institution-building viewpoint, in order to create a just environment that increased the presence of the state in the region. The UNSC also received an input from Muhammad Abdul Muhith, the head of the UN’s Peace Building Commission (PBC), who highlighted that the issues in need of being addressed also included gender equality and youth empowerment


WMO: Three of the Warmest of Julys on Record with Temperatures Close to 0.4 ℃

On 9 August 2022, the World Meteorological Organisation stated that in the month of July temperatures were close to 0.4 ℃ above the 1991-2020 average across Europe. WMO Spokesperson, Clare Nullis highlighted that despite the La Nina having a cooling effect, it was “one of the three warmest [Julys] on record”. The WMO confirmed that this was the sixth warmest July witnessed in Europe using data from the European Commission’s Copernicus Change Service. England hit 40℃ for the very first time and Portugal, Ireland and Western France witnessed record temperatures as well. Furthermore, with seven percent below average the lowest amount of Antarctic Sea ice was observed. In the Arctic Sea the ice was four percent below average. According to WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas “this kind of heatwave is the new normal”.


WFP: Barbados Was Chosen to Host the Caribbean Regional Logistics Hub and Centre of Excellence

On 10 August 2022, at the launch ceremony, Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley expressed appreciation for the opportunity to host the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Caribbean Regional Logistics Hub and Centre of Excellence. The hub is meant to facilitate air and sea operations and it will serve as a prepositioning and response centre, as well as a trans-shipment point for relief items. In the event of emergency, equipment and personnel trained at the hub will be rapidly deployed to support operations. The logistics hub and training centre will be built at the Grantley Adams International Airport by a partnership consisting of the Government of Barbados and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.  Ms. Amor Mottley mentioned that, in the light of the current international crises, the establishment of logistical systems able to provide assistance was imperative for preventing natural disasters. She added that the establishment of the centre represents an important opportunity to showcase Barbados’s responsibility within the sub-region, given its geographical location. Not only Barbadians will benefit from the centre, but also the global society. Moreover, the Prime Minister thanked the United States of America, the European Union, and Canada, who were key donor countries and made the project possible.


Guinea: Transitional Authorities Accused of Hindering Freedom of Expression and Association 

On 10 August 2022, Habibatou Gologo, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa office, issued a statement regarding the continued attacks on freedom of expression and association. The statement comes in the light of the dissolution of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), a leading opposition group and coalition of civil society organisations and political parties that initiated a series of demonstrations in 2019. The authorities described the group as a “de facto movement” and accused it of violent tendencies against people, degradation and destruction of public and private property, and acts of incitement to hatred. Amnesty International declared that it was surprised to hear the alleged accusation, as it claimed to always have monitored and documented recent demonstrations, which were peaceful. The statement highlighted that the action against the group is a serious infringement of freedoms. Moreover, Mr. Gologo mentioned that the organisation demands the authorities to reinstate the FNDC, to guarantee freedom of expression and association, and to respect the right of the Guinean people and civil society to express their views freely. 


Libya: Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor’s Statement Emphasised the Need for Accountability for Mass Graves Found in the South of Tripoli

On 11 August 2022, the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor published a statement regarding the killings, disappearances, and acts of torture that occurred during the attack on the Libya’s capital Tripoli in April 2019. 286 bodies in about 100 secret grave sites were discovered in Tarhuna and additional areas South of Tripoli. It is possible that the bodies belong to those secretly killed and buried during the take-over of Tripoli by the pro-Haftar Al-Kaniyat militia prior to its defeat in June 2020. More than half of the victims have been identified and efforts are currently underway to identify even more bodies. Independent sources and testimonies showcase that the Al-Kaniyat militia committed atrocities against the civilian population during their control of Tarhuna. They were kidnapping and illegally detaining people in inhumane conditions, even torturing them physically and psychologically. Despite these claims, the Libyan government seemed to be working hard to apprehend those responsible for the atrocities. In the statement, the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor recalled that the accountability process should include all leaders and officials who issued orders, facilitated these crimes, or failed to intervene to prevent them.


Pakistan: Amnesty International Urged Authorities to End Crackdowns on Peaceful Protests 

On 11 August 2022, Amnesty International published a briefing entitled ‘Braving the Storm: Enforced Disappearances and the Right to Protest’ that covered violations of the right to peaceful protest undertaken by Pakistani officials. The material covers the state’s use of harassment, intimidation, and even violence, to stifle peaceful protests by families in search of justice for the enforced disappearance of their relatives. Having exhausted all means, many families turned to public demonstrations to pressure authorities to release their loved ones or to receive information about their whereabouts. The practice of enforced disappearance is considered a serious violation of international human rights law and a crime under international law. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s intelligence services do not refrain from targeting human rights defenders, political activists, students, and journalists. The briefing calls for the Pakistani government to ensure that the national policies facilitate and guarantee the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Moreover, it requests Pakistani authorities to end the use of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and arrest of people for exercising their right to peaceful protest. In addition, all allegations of intimidation by state actors should be investigated and information regarding forcibly disappeared people disclosed to their families.


UN: Experts Warn the International Community About the Predicted Future of Afghanistan

On 12 August 2022, several United Nations experts from various branches issued a joint statement warning the international community about the future of Afghanistan. The statement reminded that a similar call had been made at the beginning of the Taliban takeover. The international community was urged to take stringent action to protect Afghans from human rights violations. One year later, the call is due for a reiteration.  Despite initial commitments, the Taliban rule reversed much of Afghanistan’s progress made in the field of human rights in the past two decades. The statement further emphasised that the current humanitarian and economic crisis is predicted to worsen due to the interruption of international development assistance and the freezing of Afghan assets abroad. Moreover, the statement underlined that, without an urgent demonstration of commitment towards human rights, the path to recognition of the Taliban regime will be long. Furthermore, the statement called for the Taliban to abide by all international human rights and humanitarian law obligations, immediately open all secondary schools for girls, and restore their access to quality education. The international community was urged to ensure that Afghan civilians have equitable access to humanitarian aid. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan and ongoing initiatives to support Afghans should be maintained as well as measures adopted that would pave the way for Afghanistan’s economy to recover.


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