Weekly News Recap (5-11 September 2022)

© Photo by United Nations Photo via Flickr




Germany: Court Sentences Islamic State Member to 10 Years in Prison

On 7 September 2022, a Court in Duesseldorf delivered a 10-year imprisonment decision against an Islamic State member for war crimes including murder committed in Syria in 2014. The man travelled from Germany to Syria, joined the Islamic State and became a prison guard where he punished prisoners. The defendant was found to have inflicted harm on a handcuffed man that was suspended from the ceiling. The victim died two days later while still in custody.


ICC: The Court Terminates Proceedings Against Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled After his Passing

On 7 September 2022, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) terminated proceedings against the alleged former Lieutenant General of the Libyan army and former head of the Libyan Internal Security Agency, Mr Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled. The Prosecution received confirmation from the Libyan authorities, as well as, an official translation of Mr Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled’s death certificate. As a result, the warrant of arrest issued under seal on 18 April 2013 and undersealed on 24 April 2017, is now cancelled. Mr Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled was suspected of the crimes against humanity of imprisonment, torture, persecution, and other inhumane acts, committed between February and August of 2011 in Libya. Mr Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled was also suspected of war crimes, mainly: torture, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity allegedly committed in Libya during the same timeframe.


France: Court Finalizes Case Against French Peacekeepers Deployed During Rwanda’s Genocide

On 7 September 2022, French judges decided not to move forward with the prosecution of peacekeepers deployed during the Rwandan genocide. The French government at the time held close ties with the then Hutu government. Once the crisis started in the country, France deployed thousands of UN peacekeepers into the country. The peacekeepers were accused of abandoning their posts and leaving hundreds of people, mainly those belonging to the Tutsi, to be killed by Hutu extremists. The Court determined that the prosecutor had not established the involvement or direct participation of the French troops in the crimes, nor it had established any form of complicity with the perpetrators. The investigators had already called for this case to be dropped last year. This decision is in contrast with the findings of a landmark French report compiled by historians that concluded that the government at the time bore “serious and overwhelming” responsibilities over the slaughter of around 800,000 people, mainly minority ethnic Tutsis.


Bosnia and Herzegovina: Radoslav Brdjanin Dies a Few Days After His Release

On 7 September 2022, convicted war criminal Radoslav Brdjanin dies at the age of 74. He was hospitalised with multiple organ failure and died later that day. He served 23 years of his 30-year sentenced and was granted early release. Radoslav Brdjanin was the leader of a rebel territory called the Autonomous Region of Krajina in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was arrested in 1999 in Bosnia and was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2007 for crimes committed against non-Serbs. These crimes included persecution, torture, and deportation. Upon his release, Judge Graciela Gatti Santana, President of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), a successor of the ICTY, was informed of “the recent and apparently serious deterioration of Brdjanin’s health.”


ICC: The OTP Joins Team for Prosecution of Crimes Against Migrants in Libya

On 7 September, the Prosecutor of the ICC, Mr Karim Khan, joined a team aimed at supporting the investigation into crimes committed against migrants in Libya. This team is comprised of several national authorities from Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Spain, as well as, other organisations like Europol. By being part of this team, the Prosecutor breathes new life into the concept of complementarity under the Rome Statute regime; one built upon cooperation and collaboration between relevant actors. The crimes the team will focus on are trafficking and exploitation of migrants, as well as, their arbitrary detention, unlawful killing, enforced disappearance, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, abduction for ransom, extortion, and forced labour.


UK: Man is Arrested Over Alleged War Crimes During Liberian Civil War

On 7 September 2022, the 40-year-old suspect was arrested in Newcastle as a result of an investigation involving Counter Terrorism Policing North East. The investigation followed a referral to the Met Police’s war crimes team in January last year. Liberia has gone through two periods of armed conflict, from 1989-1997 and 1999-2003. The conflict resulted in nearly 250,000 people killed and thousands more mutilated and raped. The arrested individual is suspected of having committed international crimes that have been codified in domestic criminal legislation in the UK, this is, Section 51 of the International Criminal Court Act 2001. The Met’s war crimes team is responsible for the investigation of individuals falling within the jurisdiction of the UK who are suspects of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, or torture, anywhere in the world. It operates under the principle of universal jurisdiction.


UK: Prime Minister Liz Truss Urged to Push for a Referral of Sri Lanka to the ICC

On 9 September 2022, several UK groups including the British Tamil Conservatives and Tamils for Labour jointly urged the UK Prime Minister to help refer Sri Lanka to International Criminal Court (ICC). This call echoes the views of the past four UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, nine former UN Special Rapporteurs who had visited and written reports on Sri Lanka, and all three members of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka. In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, the civil society organizations stated that “anything short of calling for the referral to ICC will permanently eliminate any chance of getting justice for the mass atrocities our people have faced.” The letter also addressed the possibility of veto in case a referral is proposed at the UN Security Council. On this, it argued that it would be misleading to assume that there will be a veto given that no permanent member has indicated so.


Netherlands: Court of Appeal in The Hague Sentences Former Ethiopian Official for War Crimes

On 9 September 2022, following his conviction, the Court of Appeal in The Hague sentenced former Ethiopian official to life imprisonment for his role in the Derg’s “Red Terror” regime during the 1970s. The defendant was found responsible for a number of crimes linked to his knowledge and participation in the events surrounding the confrontation between the regime he represented in the Gojjam province in 1978 and opposition groups, mainly the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP). He was found to have played a role in the hundreds of victims who were arrested without just cause, with no indication of the term of detention and under inhumane conditions. Some of the arrested were subjected to torture while others received the death penalty. Most victims were young, and many were still students. Aside from the criminal conviction, the Court also ordered the defendant to pay compensation to the victims. This case was adjudicated in 2017 with a similar decision; although that decision was later appealed by both the defence and the prosecutor.



Somalia: As Unprecedented Levels of Hunger Being Witnessed, Region Hitting a ‘Tipping Point’

On 5 September 2022, the World Food Programme (WFP) highlighted that it has reached 3.7 million people with relief aid and 300,000 with nutrition support, but that the threat of famine remains imminent. The UN organ also highlighted that this is double the number of people assisted in April and that in the coming months, the agency aims to reach 4.5 million people with aid. Martin Griffiths, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator highlighted that Baidoa had become “the epicentre of the humanitarian crisis” where children are malnourished to an extent that they cannot speak. He further stated that by October half a million children would be at risk of acute malnutrition if no immediate action is taken to tackle the crisis. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) also issued a statement calling upon the international community for providing increased support and humanitarian access to thousands of people in Somalia who are on the brink of famine. The forum stated that the humanitarian aid in the region needs to be scaled up immediately, as the famine situation could last till March. Around 20.5 million across the Horn of Africa are in a “dire and entirely avoidable hunger crisis” according to the IASC chiefs, with starvation and deaths already happening.



Sri Lanka: UN Report Identifies Root Causes of the Economic Crisis and Urges for Fundamental Changes

On 5 September 2022, a new UN report calls forth the new government of Sri Lanka for moving toward a national dialogue to advance human rights and reconciliation. The report also called for accountability and better institutional reforms for preventing the recurrence of past violence. The report also highlighted that it was important for Sri Lankan authorities to recognise the root causes of the ongoing economic crisis, which should also include impunity for past and present human rights violations. The High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted in the report that “fundamental changes would be required.” The report further stated that the Sri Lankan authorities should put an end to the draconian security laws and crackdowns on peaceful protests while showing renewed commitment to reforming the security sector. The report went on to highlight that the Sri Lankan authorities have failed to establish a mechanism for transitional justice to hold the perpetrators of human rights violations accountable; and urged that other countries should cooperate to provide accountability efforts to the Sri Lanka authorities by using available avenues such as universal and extraterritorial jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes that have been committed under international law in Sri Lanka.



OHCHR: De Facto Authorities in Gaza Execute Five Prisoners, Human Rights Office Condemns the Act

On 5 September 2022, it was reported that five men were executed by the de facto authorities in Gaza in the early hours of 4 September 2022. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), the act was in clear violation of Palestine’s own domestic law and its international law obligations. According to media reports, this has been the first time executions have occurred since 2017, in the occupied Palestinian Territory. Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson for the OHCHR stated that no opportunity for pardoning the sentence was given to the executed prisoners, and further urged that the de facto authorities in Gaza ban all executions, and called upon the State of Palestine to take prompt action to abolish the death penalty on its territory. It has been reported that the death penalty was not approved by Mahmoud Abbas, President of Palestine, which is required by national law.


Papua New Guinea: Election Related Violence Displaces 15,000 People in the Region

On 6 September 2022, the International Organisation on Migration (IOM) stated that more than 15,000 people have been internally displaced in the aftermath of election-related violence in Papua New Guinea. The IOM partnered with local authorities for tracking and monitoring internal displacement in the region along with identifying the needs of the most affected people in the Highlands. As the assessments continue, the number of internally displaced persons is bound to increase. IOM has scaled up its response in the region for assisting and aiding affected communities and has partnered with the National Disaster Centre, the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), and the Australian Government to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable populations in the region. The emergency materials include shelter kits of tarpaulins, nails, hammers, ropes, mosquito nets and water treatment tablets. As of now, the agency has been able to distribute shelter kits to 236 affected households in Mendi, Sothern Highland Province.


South Sudan: As Fighting Continues, New Report Highlights the Continuous Human Rights Violations by the Unity State

On 6 September 2022, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a new report which documents 173 civilian deaths, in four months, along with highlighting the extreme violation of its international human rights and humanitarian law obligations by the Unity State. The report highlights the violations that have been committed by the Unity State during the continuous fighting between the Government Forces and affiliated armed militias on one hand, and persons from Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. Approximately 44,000 people have been displaced in 26 villages because of the continuous fighting, in addition to which 28 villages have been affected, injuring 12 and abducting 37 women and children. According to Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Head of Mission, the human rights violations that have been committed by the Unity state have been committed with impunity. He further underscored that it was Government’s duty under international law to protect civilians, conduct a prompt investigation, and hold the perpetrators accountable.


Nigeria: New Report Emphasised that Children from Conflict Affected Areas Continue to Experience Unstable Security Situation

On 7 September 2022, the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict issued a new report on the predicament of children in Nigeria in relation to armed conflict. The research analyses data acquired between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 and focused on the three disputed states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe. The report emphasises that boys and girls continue to experience unstable security conditions despite a marked decline in grave violations against children. Though in declining numbers, children in the three conflict-affected states of north-east Nigeria continue to suffer terrible abuses, mostly at the hands of Boko Haram-affiliated and breakaway organizations. The report revealed the recruitment and exploitation of 70 children, the murder and injury of 212 children, the sexual assault of 63 girls, and the kidnapping of 287 children. In addition, there were 30 attacks on hospitals and schools during the time of the assessment. As an outcome, the Special Representative declared that enhanced action is required in order to safeguard children from violence and armed conflict. The representative applauded the Government of Nigeria and the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) for their constructive efforts, as well as their ongoing initiatives to put an end to and prevent child recruitment, child usage, and other serious violations. 



UNSC: Special Representative Urged Somali Leaders to Ensure Equal Participation Across Institutions for Women, Youth and Historically Marginalized Groups

On 7 September 2022, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, addressed the Security Council assessing the situation in the country, in light of the new long-term objectives set forth by the administration. The six pillars of security, justice, reconciliation, economic development, social development, and international relations are the emphasis of a work program released by Somali decision-makers. The four-year work plan was created in the light of the completion of the electoral process in Somalia and the approval of the new Prime Minister and Cabinet, two events said to have made the country’s political climate more favourable for the achievement of national priorities. The agreed-upon objectives address the need for improving governance and justice, effectively combating Al-Shabaab, and acting quickly to address the escalating humanitarian catastrophe. In this regard, Mr Swan stressed the necessity of ongoing coordination between the federal and state governments, while also keeping in mind the prospect of long-term development in light of the anticipated advancements in debt reduction. Moreover, the Special Representative urged Somali leaders to take additional steps to ensure women’s political participation, reminding the Council of the lack of representation for women in cabinet positions and parliamentary committees. Mr Swan concluded by reinforcing the United Nations’ commitment to helping Somalia achieve its national aspirations.



UNSC: Top Official Updated the Security Council on the Aggravating Situation in Ukraine

On 7 September 2022, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary A. DiCarlo, briefed the Security Council on the issues of displacement, global security and civilians in Ukraine. Official reports claim that 5,718 people have been killed, including 372 children, although the real number could be significantly larger. To date, the conflict has left approximately 6.9 million people internally displaced. Subsequently, Ms DiCarlo reiterated the dire situation of Ukrainian women, who are reportedly facing increased security risks, including sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. Ms DiCarlo reiterated the organisation’s obligation to stop further escalation. She did, however, bring up the UN Development Fund’s ongoing evaluation of the conflict’s effects on health, education access, livelihoods, food security, and overall levels of poverty and human development, the results of which are anticipated to be published in December. Over 560 humanitarian organizations are now active across the nation, and the UN’s expanded humanitarian response is currently reaching 12.7 million people.



OCHA: Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan Condemned the Most Recent Outbreak of Violence in the Upper Nile State

On 8 September 2022, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Ms Sara Beysolow Nyanti, released a statement expressing her concern and condemnation of the most recent outbreak of violence in the Upper Nile State. Thousands of people have been displaced as a result of intense violence between armed factions in Tonga town and surrounding areas. The declaration came in light of the recent fighting which broke out near Adidiang, a location where thousands of the displaced civilians had sought refuge. The circumstances resulted in civilian deaths, injuries, and more displacement. The initial reports described horrific pictures of civilian infrastructure being set ablaze, the destruction of humanitarian infrastructure built only two weeks prior, and residents escaping the battle in canoes and boats. Unverified sources state that the attacks have resulted in the deaths of up to 300 individuals. Ms Nyanti reiterated that all parties must keep in mind their commitments under international law and make sure that civilians are safeguarded. Up to 5,000 individuals are expected to come to the Protection of Civilians Site (PoC). Even if the violence was restrained, there are still worries that it would spread to Malakal and the protection camp.


UNSC: UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Expressed Concern on Large-Scale Influx of Weapons to Conflict-Affected Zones

On 8 September 2022, the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, made a statement on the increasing supply of lethal weapons into Ukraine, emphasising that such a massive infusion of weaponry into conflict areas raises significant concerns. She asserted that it is public knowledge that Ukraine has received weaponry and ammunition for its defence forces from numerous States since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Beyond the issue of supply, Ms Nakamitsu highlighted that the Security Council should concentrate on how these weapons are being deployed. She reiterated that heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles, and aircraft attacks have all been responsible for the majority of recorded civilian casualties. The United Nation’s top disarmament official agreed with Secretary-General António Guterres on the humanitarian implications of using explosive weapons in inhabited areas. In accordance with international humanitarian law, combatants must refrain from attacking civilians or civilian infrastructure and must take all practical precautions when conducting military operations to prevent, or at the very least minimise incidental civilian casualties.



Leave a Reply