Weekly News Recap (29 August-4 September 2022)

© Photo by United Nations Photo




Peru: Yenifer Paredes Ordered to be Held in Pre-trial Detention in the Criminal Inquiry of the President’s Inner Circle

On 29 August 2022, in the matter of a criminal investigation targeting the inner circle of the Peruvian President, a prominent order was passed by the court. Yenifer Paredes, the sister-in-law of President Pedro Castillo, was ordered to be held in pre-trial detention for a period of 30 months. It is alleged that she was a participant of the group that was involved in influence peddling to assign public contracts to allies of Castillo in their home region of Cajamarca, in the Peruvian Andes. She has yet not been charged with a crime and has been detained for investigation purposes. Castillo has survived two impeachment attempts, in his 13 months in office, and has continued to deny all allegations advanced against him. Six criminal investigations have been launched against him by the Prosecution’s Office. Castillo cannot be charged or detained while holding the position of President.


Israel: Former Gaza Representative Sentenced to an Additional Six Years in Jail for Financially Aiding Hamas

On 30 August 2022, the district court of Beersabe’ (Beersheba) sentenced Mohammad al-Halabi, former head of operations at World Vision in Gaza, to an additional six years of prison. He has already served six years in prison and has gone through more than 160 hearings before being convicted. He is accused of providing financial aid to the Palestinian armed movement Hamas. He was convicted in June and has denied all charges. He was arrested by the Israeli forces in 2016 for transferring humanitarian funds of up to $50m to support Hamas. Human rights groups and lawyers have called the trial unjust in consideration of his prolonged detention before to any charges and a violation of the due process of law. Israeli forces have also shut down and criminalised seven other Palestinian human rights and civil society organisations. 


France: Imam Hassan Iquioussen to be Extradited to Morocco over Hate Speech and Extremism

On 30 August 2022, the top French administrative court ordered in favour of Imam Hassan Iquioussen’s extradition to Morocco. Iquioussen was born in France but holds Moroccan citizenship. He is accused of hate speech and spreading ideas that call for discrimination and violence. The representative of the interior ministry observed that his words “create fertile ground for separatism and even terrorism.” Iquioussen’s lawyer managed to successfully obstruct the interior ministry’s July order that called for his deportation. The Paris Judges blocked the ministry’s order based on the argument put forth by the Imam’s lawyer that his deportation would cause “disproportionate harm” to his “private and family life.” Thus, the case was brought before the Council of State which finally approved Iquioussen’s expulsion to Morocco.


ECtHR: Romania Must Ensure Proper Investigation in Case of Use of Excessive Force During Police Operations

On 30 August 2022, in the case of Pârvu v. Romania, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously held that there have been two violations of Article 2 (right to life/investigation) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case involved chaotic police operations that led to the death of the applicant’s husband. The Court was doubtful whether how the police responded during the incident was “absolutely necessary” and was not convinced by the arguments that were put forth by the police. It further observed that the investigations that lasted for 11 years were ineffective. The domestic courts in four judicial decisions observed that the investigations involved various deficiencies. The Court ordered Romania to pay 65,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 8,630 in respect of costs and expenses.


Pakistan: Imran Khan’s Bail in Terrorism Case Extended

On 1 September 2022, former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s bail term was extended till 12 September 2022. He was charged under the anti-terrorism laws of the country for his remarks that were made during a speech against senior police officials and a judicial member. The August 20 speech has also led to him being charged with contempt of court, wherein the high court has given him another chance to provide a supplementary response. The Court also suspended the ban on live TV broadcasts of Khan’s speeches. Since April, Khan has conducted several rallies and has widely criticised his political opponents. The court proceedings will resume on 12 September, and both sides will put forth their arguments.


Israel: Appeal to Release Ahmad Manasra Citing Mental Health Conditions Refused by the Court

On 1 September 2022, the Israeli authorities refused to release Ahmad Manasra, on the basis that his case fell under Israel’s “counterterrorism law.” Ahmad Manasra is a Palestinian prisoner who was arrested at the age of 13 years and is suffering from serious deterioration in mental health conditions. Manasra, now 21, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2021 and has spent more than 10 months in solitary confinement so far. In mid-August, the court extended his isolation till November. The court held that his health condition is not dangerous enough for release. Manasra was initially sentenced to 12 years of jail term for being with his cousin Hassan Manasra, who allegedly stabbed two Israeli settlers near the illegal settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev in East Jerusalem in 2015. Hassan was shot dead by Israeli civilians and Ahmad was severely tortured and sentenced to nine years in prison. International and regional bodies such as United Nations and European Union have called for the immediate release of Manasra.


Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi Sentenced to an Additional 3-Years’ Jail Term for Election Fraud

On 2 September 2022, leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour for electoral fraud. This verdict adds to the 17 years in prison that she was already handed for other offences. She has been under detention since a coup last year and denies all the allegations. A special court at a prison in the capital, Naypyidaw held that she committed fraud in a November 2020 general election which led her party to win with an overwhelming majority. The sentence was conveyed by a legal official anonymously who further informed the Associated Press that Aung San Suu Kyi and two other defendants in the case appeared in good health. The country’s overthrown President Win Myint and a former minister Min Thu, who were co-defendants in the case were sentenced to a three years jail term along with labour. Aung San Suu Kyi’s combined prison term after this verdict is now 20 years.



UNSC: As Military Escalation on the Rise, No Revitalised Peace Process in Sight in Syria

On 29 August 2022, Joyce Myusa, UN’s Assistant Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs, briefed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) highlighting “irreversible damage” to the lives of Syrians due to underfunded humanitarian operations. She emphasized that the UNSC “shared responsibility for the humanitarians’ life-saving work in Syria” and that with a persistent lack of funds there will be increased consequences such as a higher malnutrition rate, increased drop-outs from school and fewer protection interventions, putting a whole generation of Syrian children at risk. Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy for Syria, also briefed the UNSC on the situation in Syria and pointed out that there had been an increase in military activities in the region while little effort was made toward the peace process. Ms Msuya also stated that, if violence emerges in the northern region of the country, the security situation would put the lives of women and girls at risk, while also restricting the activity of humanitarian organisations in providing essential services.


Afghanistan: Deepening Impoverishment, Hunger Crisis and Climate Crisis Compound Humanitarian Situation in the Country

On 29 August 2022, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Martin Griffiths while briefing ambassadors reported that in Afghanistan there were 24 million in urgent need of humanitarian aid. He also stated that humanitarians have been doing their part in providing relief, and the international community must do the same. He stated that the crisis in Afghanistan was a humanitarian crisis but not a “hopeless crisis.” Mr Griffiths outlined that the situation in Afghanistan including, the halting of large-scale development for a year which has further compounded the levels of food insecurity, along with humanitarians facing “exceptionally challenging” operating environments. He also highlighted the condition of rights in the country with women and girls having been “pushed to the sidelines” with adolescent girls missing a school year. With the country facing impoverishment, hunger crisis and climate change crisis, the UN relief chief stressed that the only way of preventing a larger catastrophe is to provide basic services and humanitarian aid to the population. The Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan which has been launched for $4.4 billion is currently underfunded and has a gap of $3.14 billion. There is a need for more than $600 million to support various priority preparedness activities, while an additional $154 million is required for supplies including food and livelihood assistance before winter approaches, as the season would cut off access to some of the areas of the country.


Bangladesh: Whistle-blowers Report Reveals Overwhelming Evidence of Enforced Disappearances by Bangladeshi Authorities

On 29 August 2022, while marking the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the Bangladeshi authorities should be complying with calls for a transparent, independent investigation into enforced disappearances. On 14 August 2022, a whistle-blower’s report was published by a media outlet called Netra news, which has been banned in Bangladesh. The report revealed that there were Bangladesh officials who were allegedly held and tortured victims of enforced disappearance at a secret detention site known as Aynaghar (house of mirrors). Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights also urged the Bangladesh authorities on her three-day visit to the country that there should be an established “specialised mechanism” for investigating allegations of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia Director at HRW also reiterated that the evidence against Bangladesh authorities for being involved in the enforced disappearances was overwhelming. She also underscored that the authorities should stop ignoring the same and cooperate with the UN in providing a prompt answer and “effective accountability.”



UNSC: Threat of Growing Violence Amidst Political Impasse in Libya

On 30 August 2022, Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Political Affairs Chief expressed her grave concern over the political situation in and around Libya as with the existing stalemate in the electoral and political process, there is a growing threat to security and an increase in violence in and around Tripoli. She also highlighted that there had been violent clashes on 27 August 2022, between armed groups supporting Mr Dbeibah and Mr Bashaga, which killed at least 42 people and injured 160. The UN official further urged that United Nations should continue to put efforts into helping Libyan actors resolve the ongoing political stalemate. She also highlighted the human rights situation in the country was of concern, reporting that there were various other violations like the prohibition on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, with smear campaigns being conducted targeting women, which have consisted of hate speech and incitements of violence.


Pakistan: More Than 33 Million Uprooted from Their Homes Due to Flooding

On 30 August 2022, it was reported that the United Nations launched an emergency appeal for $160 million for Pakistan to help deal with massive and devastating flooding that has occurred in the wake of heavy monsoons this past week. The emergency appeal aims to reach 5.2 million of the most vulnerable population of the country. Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN humanitarian coordination office, OCHA stated that the flooding has affected around 33 million people, with more than 1,000 deaths, among which most of them are children. According to Ms Laerke, 500,000 people who have been displaced by the flooding have taken shelter in relief camps. The heavy monsoon has damaged nearly one million homes, with over 700,000 livestock lost. The humanitarian situation in the country has further been compounded by damage to the infrastructure where 3,500 km of roads and 150 bridges have been damaged and have restricted the movement of people to move to safer places. Matthew Saltmarsh, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesperson stated that the response of the agency was focused on providing emergency relief items in the most affected areas. He also stated that $ 1.5 million has already been delivered in the region, but that more aid is needed.


South Asia: IWMI Launched the South Asia Drought Monitoring System

On 31 August 2022, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) launched the South Asia Drought Monitoring System. The programme targets Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as the region has faced several droughts in recent decades with 50 major droughts having been reported since 1990. The new monitoring system tackles both current and future problems to drought management with the goal of minimizing vulnerability to droughts. Along with forecast tools to show the presence and severity of a drought, it focuses on establishing a framework for proactive drought mitigation efforts across nations in South Asia. The program includes multisource information, including open-access satellite data and access to real-time meteorological updates that enable farmers, extension agents, and agriculture and water resource authorities all the knowledge they need to forecast, monitor, and manage drought. The programme was announced during the three-day regional workshop held by the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Disaster Management Centre. Participants from important SAARC Member States departments and agencies, including meteorology, space affairs, agriculture, irrigation, revenue, and disaster management, attended the session.


Lebanon: Security Council Unanimously Passed Resolution, Extending Mandate of UNIFIL for Another Year

On 31 August 2022, the United Nations Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until 31 August 2023 by unanimously passing Resolution 2650. The Council requested that the parties ensure and end any limitations and obstructions to the Interim Force’s freedom of movement and movement of its personnel. Moreover, for a period of six months, the Council asked UNIFIL to support and assist the Lebanese Armed Forces with the provision of pertinent additional non-lethal material, such as food, fuel, and medical, as well as, logistical support. During the meeting, the Council reinforced its request that the Lebanese government produce a plan as quickly as possible to improve its naval capabilities, with the aim of eventually reducing UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force and handing the responsibilities over to the Lebanese Armed Forces. The Council also criticized all crossings of the Blue Line and urged all parties to respect the end of hostilities and stop such crossings. The resolution further urged all nations to fully support and uphold the creation of a zone free of armed individuals, property, and weapons other than those belonging to the government or UNIFIL between the Blue Line and the Litani River. Additionally, it called for greater coordination between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces.


OCHA: Large Population Displacement in Toga Deepens Humanitarian Crisis

On 1 September 2022, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a press release regarding the implications of the recent conflict in Tonga, South Sudan. The information was published in the aftermath of the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Ms Sara Beysolow Nyanti’s mission to Adidyang and Malakal on 28-29 August. There she witnessed the impact of the violent clashes which have triggered large-scale displacement and exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation. Due to increasing conflicts between armed factions in Tonga town and neighbouring areas in Panyikang County, Upper Nile State, thousands of people have been displaced. Humanitarian workers have quickly mobilized resources and delivered life-saving aid to meet urgent needs. Despite these attempts, the response is still restricted due to a lack of financing, access and security implications. Ms Nyanti further stated that at checkpoints, different entities going along the supply lines are subject to illegitimate taxation and pleaded for unrestricted access for all those in need. Humanitarians are collaborating across sectors to deliver the much-needed shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, protection, health, food, and nutrition services planned for around 18,000 to 21,000 vulnerable people in the next two months.


Yemen: Amnesty International Urges De Facto Authorities to End Their Ban on Women Traveling Without a Male Guardian 

On 1 September 2022, Amnesty International issued a press release condemning the mahram (male guardian) requirement imposed across Yemeni governorates under Huthi control. The restriction targets women, banning them from travelling without a male guardian or evidence of their written approval. Women had been obstructed from carrying out their work, especially those who are required to travel. Moreover, the restrictions also target Yemeni female humanitarian workers who are struggling to conduct their work, thereby directly impacting access to aid for Yemenis. Such measures represent gender-based discrimination, enhancing the discrimination faced by women in Yemen daily. The acting deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Semaan, stated that “Yemeni women urgently need to be able to move around the country freely in order to work, to seek medical care, and to give or receive humanitarian aid.’ All parties to the armed conflict in Yemen, including the Huthis, are required by international humanitarian law to support the swift and unhindered delivery of impartial humanitarian aid to people in need and to guarantee the unrestricted movement of humanitarian relief workers. This commitment is, nevertheless, violated by the mahram limitation.


Poland: $1.32 trillion Demanded as Reparations from Germany for the World War II Losses

On 1 September 2022, the losses caused by Germany during World War II were announced by Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party. A loss of $1.32 trillion has been estimated. Poland has announced its plan to officially demand reparations from Germany. In 2019, the estimated amount of compensation was $850 billion. Ever since the party took power in 2015, it has made repeated calls for compensation. Germany believes that the compensation was paid to Eastern Bloc nations in the years after the war while the territories lost were compensated with some of Germany’s pre-war lands. Thus, it considers the matter closed. Poland’s right-wing government argues that Poland was the first victim of the war and has not been fully compensated.


Mozambique: UNHCR and WFP Issued Joint Assessment of the Maratane Refugee Settlement

On 2 September 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) published their 2021 Mozambique Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) findings. The purpose of the mission was to collect information on refugees´ and host communities’ capacities to meet their basic needs, livelihood opportunities and challenges, to understand the current food security and nutrition situation and to describe the vulnerability characteristics of refugee households. The mission uncovered high levels of general vulnerability among households in the Maratane settlement and the host community residing in its vicinity. Such high levels of vulnerability affect the refugee population and host community, as more than 80 per cent of households are severely vulnerable. Moreover, there are serious obstacles to building, improving or expanding their households and livelihoods. The main recommendations include the continuation of food assistance programmes, with livelihood interventions to promote increasing self-reliance. Moreover, the two offices will develop a harmonized targeting approach. The report mentioned a joint monitoring system and a joint advocacy and resource mobilization strategy as measures to be considered and recommended the pursuit of higher-level policy discussions with the Government.


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