Weekly News Recap (26 September-2 October 2022)

© Photo by UNDP Ukraine via Flickr




ICC: Mahamat Said Abdel Kani’s Trial Commenced before the Trial Chamber VI

On 26 September 2022, in the case of The Prosecutor v. Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, the trial commenced before the Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”). Mr. Said is charged with seven counts of crimes against humanity (imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty; torture; persecution; enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts) and war crimes (torture and cruel treatment) allegedly committed in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) in 2013. He was surrendered to the ICC on 24 January 2021. In December 2021, Pre-Trial Chamber II partially confirmed the charges brought by the Prosecution against Mr. Said and committed him to a Trial Chamber for trial. Mr. Said pleaded not guilty to all the charges. The Prosecution is expected to call 43 witnesses.


ICC: Probe into the 2009 Stadium Massacre Closed; National Authorities of Guinea to Investigate and Prosecute the Alleged Crimes

On 28 September 2022, military ruler Moussa Dadis Camara, alongside 10 other men went on trial for the 2009 Guinea stadium massacre. According to a United Nations report, hundreds of civilians were killed and raped in the incident that took place in the capital Conakry. On 29 September 2022, court prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan stated that the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) has closed its probe into the massacre as “the national authorities of Guinea are neither inactive, unwilling nor unable to genuinely investigate and prosecute the alleged crimes.” He further said that ICC is the court of last resort and can prosecute crimes if the member states are unwilling or unable to do so. The Republic of Guinea has committed to supporting the trial by signing a Memorandum of Understanding while the prosecutor’s office committed to supporting Guinea’s accountability efforts.




Germany: Suspected Female Member of Islamic State Charged with Crimes Against Humanity

On 28 September 2022, a German woman suspected of being a member of the Islamic State (IS) identified as Nadine K. was charged by the German prosecutors for abetting genocide with the Islamic State group in Syria by “enslaving” a Yazidi girl. She has also been charged with war crimes, membership in a foreign terrorist group and crimes against humanity. According to the prosecutor’s office, Nadine K. travelled from Germany to Syria with her husband in 2014 and joined the group. They later settled with their daughter in the Iraqi city of Mosul. For almost 3 years Nadine K. and her husband kept a Yazidi woman enslaved, who was regularly tortured, raped and beaten. The Yazidi woman gained her freedom in 2019 when the suspect was captured by the Kurdish forces. Nadine K. was arrested in March 2021 upon her return to Germany in one of several repatriation operations.


Ukraine: Russian Lieutenant Serhiy Steiner Convicted in Absentia for Russian War Crimes

On 29 September 2022, the first trial in absentia came to an end in Ukraine’s war crimes proceedings. Serhiy Steiner was tried for robbing civilians and destroying property in the village of Lukyanivka in the Kyiv region in March. In order to escape the attack of Ukrainian troops, Steiner left the tank and fled the village. His details were collected from the armoured car and were made public by a journalist. In May an international warrant was issued against him. The Kyiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office sent an indictment to the Solomyanskyy District Court for an investigation in absentia. Steiner was summoned to the court and upon multiple non-appearances, the judge approved the special court proceeding. The merits of the case were reviewed for over 4 months and Steiner was tried for violating the laws and customs of war. Steiner was defended by a lawyer appointed by the free legal aid center. Judge Kryvorot sentenced Steiner to 9 years of imprisonment.


IRMCT: Rwanda’s 1994 Genocide Alleged Financer Felicien Kabuga on Trial

On 29 September 2022, Felicien Kabuga, a wealthy businessman who is suspected to have played an important role in Rwanda’s 1994 Genocide went on trial. He was arrested in May 2020 near Paris. Rwanda’s 1994 genocide led to the mass killing of thousands of ethnic Tutsis and also moderate ethnic Hutus by members of the country’s Hutu majority. The indictment against him alleges that he aided the broadcasting of genocidal propaganda for the killing of ethnic Tutsis across Rwanda through the radio broadcaster called Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM) that he co-founded and financed. Furthermore, he is suspected to have aided and abetted Interahamwe, who killed and harmed Tutsi by providing material, logistical, financial and moral support. Due to Mr Kabuga’s health, along with medical advice provided to the court, the trial will be held three days per week for two hours. The Prosecution will commence presenting evidence on 5 October 2022.



Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi and Professor Turnell Sentenced to Imprisonment; Australia Calls for Turnell’s Immediate Release

On 29 September 2022, Aung San Suu Kyi and her economic adviser Sean Turnell were found guilty of breaching Myanmar’s official secrets act by a secretive military court. The exact information of the alleged offences has not been made public. They were both sentenced to a three-year jail term with no hard labour. Sean Turnell, an academic at Macquarie University in Sydney, was arrested in the first five days after February 2021 coup. The Australian embassy was not allowed to be present during the trial with Turnell being denied a translator. Australia has condemned and rejected the court ruling and has called for Turnell’s immediate release. Aung San Suu Kyi has already been sentenced to 20 years in jail for other offences.


For previous developments see: https://peacehumanity.org/2022/09/04/weekly-news-recap-29-august-4-september-2022/#8

India: Supreme Court Ruled in Favour of Women’s Right to Safe and Legal Abortion

On 29 September 2022, in a landmark judgment relating to the abortion rights of women, the Supreme Court of India held that all women have the right to abort a pregnancy at any time up to 24 weeks. The court further held that a lack of marital status cannot deny a woman the right to abortion. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of 1971, had limited procedures for married women, divorcees, widows, minors, “disabled and mentally ill women” and survivors of sexual assault or rape. Marital rape is still not considered an offence under Indian laws. The court recognised marital rape in the context of abortion wherein forceful pregnancy of a married woman would amount to marital rape.


CJEU: European Union to Initiate Legal Challenge Against Malta’s Golden Passport Programme

On 30 September 2022, the European Commission stated that it would legally challenge Malta’s golden passport programme that allows wealthy foreigners to buy citizenship in exchange for an investment of 1 million euros ($970,000). Such a programme would allow the Maltese passport-holding foreigners to live and work in any European Union (EU) country. Following the Russia-Ukraine war, Malta suspended the programme for Russian and Belarusian nationals but the programme is still operational for all other nationalities. It is believed that such a scheme breaches EU law as it grants citizenship to people without any real obligation for the beneficiaries to live in the country. In October 2020, an infringement procedure was initiated against the programme but it did not lead to substantial changes. Pressure from Brussels has led to the suspension or abolition of golden passport schemes in other EU countries.


US: Court Dismisses Mexico’s $10 Billion Lawsuit Against US Gun Manufacturers

On 1 October 2022, a $10 billion lawsuit initiated by Mexico to hold United States (US) gun manufacturers responsible for facilitating the flood of weapons that were smuggled through the United States – Mexico border to drug cartels, was dismissed. Mexico claimed that in 2019 at least 17,000 homicides were linked to trafficked weapons from the US and in an August 2021 complaint it estimated 2.2 per cent of the annual gun production of the US was smuggled into Mexico. The Court expressed considerable sympathy for the people of Mexico and held that the federal law “unequivocally” bars lawsuits holding gun manufacturers responsible when the buyers use guns for their intended purposes. The law includes narrow exceptions but none apply in the present case.



Russia: Gunman Opens Fire at a Russian School Killing 15

On 26 September 2022, Reuters reported that a gunman killed 15 people including, 11 children and wounded another 24 at a school shooting in Russia. The attacker, who committed suicide after, was named Artem Kazantsev, a male in his early thirties who was previously a student at the school. Investigators released an image of the gunman’s body, which was dressed all in black with a red swastika. Russia’s Investigative Committee announced that it was looking into the perpetrator’s suspected neo-Nazi links. The committee also stated that the attacker had previously been registered at a “psycho-neurological” treatment facility in Russia.


UN: Chief Warns of Global Nuclear Disaster and Renewed Calls for Nuclear Disarmament

On 26 September 2022, an event to commemorate International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, UN Secretary-General António Guterres (“Guterres”) urged countries to step back from nuclear weapon development and recommit to peace. Guterres expressed his disappointment after countries failed to reach a consensus when reviewing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is the only binding commitment to the goal of disarmament by states that officially stockpile nuclear weapons, in August 2022. The delegation left without an outcome as Russia objected to the text about its control over Ukrainian nuclear facilities. The President of the UN General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi stated that the war in Ukraine had raised a credible risk of global nuclear disaster. Guterres reiterated the need to develop a new vision of nuclear disarmament and a common understanding of the threats facing the international community.


Iran: Protests Continue Against Death of Mahsa Amini

On 27 September 2022, Iranian riot police and security forces clashed with demonstrators in many cities across Iran, as protests continued over the death of young Iranian woman Mahsa Amini (“Amini”). The morality police arrested Amini on 13 September in Tehran for “unsuitable attire” and she died three days later in police custody. Despite a growing death toll, Iranians have continued to take to the street to protest, with videos on social media showing protestors calling for the fall of the clerical establishment. Iran’s security forces have responded with live ammunition that has killed dozens of people and injured hundreds of others. The protests have been the biggest show of opposition to Iran’s leaders since protests against the rise of gasoline in 2019. Amini’s death has also triggered protests across the world calling for an end to the Islamic Republic, including in the UK, France, Iraq, Chile and many others.


Save The Children: Pakistani Children Facing Growing Threats Due to Flood Crisis

On 27 September 2022, Save The Children reported that more than half (54 per cent) of flood-hit families in Pakistan are sleeping outside in tents or makeshift shelters, with 16 per cent having no shelter at all. More than two million homes were destroyed since the floods first hit in June displacing over seven million people. The organisation reported that more than half of the 1 200 households surveyed in the four provinces worst hit by the floods are defecating outside in stagnant water which puts them at risk of spreading diseases like cholera and dysentery. Eighty per cent of the families surveyed do not have access to clean water, with one in five drinking from canals or rivers. As well as illness and disease, children from flood-hit families are facing other threats. A quarter of parents stated they had been forced to send their children out to work to earn an income, and 4.6 per cent of families had married off one of their children since the flood crisis began.


Panama: Number of Migrants Crossing the Dangerous Gap to Panama is Increasing

On 27 September 2022, Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) reported that the number of migrants making the dangerous crossing across the Darien Gap from Colombia into Panama is increasing and remains without sufficient medical support from Panamanian authorities. HRW reported that new visa requirements by countries in the Americas have led to an increase in the number of Venezuelans and others crossing the Darien Gap because they cannot fly directly. From January to August in 2022 almost 69 000 Venezuelans crossed the gap, which is 60 times more than in 2021. HRW found that many who make the crossing have been assaulted, threatened, robbed and sexually abused by gangs. Once they arrived in Panama, HRW found that there was drastically insufficient medical support and supplies available as well as extremely limited screening for asylum. Humanitarian organisations are urging governments in the region to reverse measures that are preventing safe access to asylum and asking the Panamanian government to improve health and safety conditions on the Panama side of the crossing.


Iran: UN Rights Expert Urge Authorities to Stay Execution of Two Human Rights Defenders

On 28 September 2022, a group of UN-appointed human rights experts issued a statement which called upon Iranian authorities to stay the execution of two human rights defenders Ms Sedighi-Hamadani and Ms Choubdar, who were arrested for supporting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse (LGBT) people. The Iranian legal system punishes and prohibits homosexuality, with the punishment of death prescribed in their penal code. The UN experts were informed that the charges that were levelled against the two women were concerned with the speech and actions in support of the human rights of LGBT people who have been facing discrimination in the country based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The statement issued by the UN experts also highlighted that both the human rights defenders were prosecuted by the Iranian judicial authorities in August 2022, while they were notified of the conviction and death sentence on 1 September 2022. The experts urged that the health and well-being of both the women should be ensured by the authorities with calls for their immediate release. Ms Sedighi-Hamedani was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards on 27 October 2021 at the Iranian border with Turkiye. She had been held in the detention centre in Urumieh and was forcibly disappeared for two months after her arrest and has also been subjected to abuse and discrimination. While Ms Choubdar was arrested at a later unknown date. The UN experts have further called upon the Iranian authorities to promptly investigate the enforced disappearance of Ms Sedighi-Hamedani and also the failure of judicial authorities in ensuring due process has been followed in women’s cases.


FAO:  Food Access Crisis Should Not be Turned into a Food Availability Crisis

On 28 September 2022, Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) highlighted at the Agriculture Ministers Meeting of the G20 that there would be “devastating implications” for global security and nutrition because of the increasing consumer food prices. He commended the Black Sea Grain Initiative which has been facilitating food exports from Russia and Ukraine despite the conflict and further added that the initiative should be hailed for improving access to food in the most vulnerable countries.  The FAO has also proposed a Food Import Financing Facility (FIFF) to allow 62 lower-income net food importing countries, which comprise almost 1.8 billion people, to provide urgent funds while also investing more in sustainable agri-food systems at home. He pointed out that we need to avoid making a “food access crisis” into a “food availability crisis.” He stated further that there was a need for medium-term solutions, which required more science and innovation in infrastructure, to reduce the existing inequalities and also reduce food waste and loss. He suggested that long-term strategies included improvement of early warning signs and early action systems for increasing productivity and trade, and also searching for innovative solutions to tackle the constraints surrounding inorganic fertiliser supply.


Israel & Palestine: Urgent Need to Reverse Negative Trends in the Region and Implement Two State Solution

On 28 September 2022, Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process while briefing the UN Security Council on the situation on Israel–Palestine, highlighted that several violations were being committed against Palestinians which were driving them out of their houses. He also highlighted that there had been “little progress” as to the implementation of Resolution 2334 which was adopted in December 2016, demanding Israel stop building new settlements on Palestinian land.  He stated that the situation was deteriorating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory without a “meaningful peace process” and making the conflict “irresolvable.”  He also highlighted the number of attacks that have been committed in the West Bank and Gaza, which left the majority of Palestinians dead or injured and reminded that resolution 2334 calls for taking prompt steps for preventing violence against civilians. He also reiterated that the resolution called for “reversing negative trends” and implementing the two-State solutions. He urged that “meaningful initiatives “were needed to reverse the ongoing situation in the region, while also promising to remain “actively engaged in advancing these objectives.”


OHCHR: New Report Highlights Disturbing Trends of Reprisals and Intimidation against People Cooperating with the UN

On 29 September 2022, the UN Human Rights Council released its latest annual report titled “Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanism in the field of human rights” which highlighted disturbing trends regarding individuals facing reprisal and intimidation across the globe for their cooperation with the United Nations. The report also makes a detailed account of human rights violations meted out to human rights defenders and journalists by States and non-State actors in form of arbitrary detention, online and offline surveillance, and targeted legislation. The cases that have been highlighted in the latest report occurred between the period 1 May 2021 and 30 April 2022, which involved individuals and groups who had been cooperating with UN human rights mechanisms or using UN procedures. The report also highlighted that “intimidation and reprisals disproportionately affect certain populations, […] including representatives of indigenous populations, minorities or those who work on environment and climate change issues, as well as people who may suffer discrimination based on age, sexual orientation and gender.” The report also stated that with the increase in surveillance and monitoring, it has witnessed a decrease in the number of violation reports as well as a reduction in people cooperating with the UN.


Myanmar: New Report Highlights Meta Algorithms Promoted Violence Against Rohingyas

On 29 September 2022, a new report released by Amnesty International titled, ‘The Social Atrocity: Meta and the right to remedy for the Rohingya’ highlighted how Meta’s dangerous algorithms and the focus on profit returns, contributed to the atrocities that have been perpetrated by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya refugees in 2017. The report details how Meta should have known that Facebook’s algorithmic systems were intensifying the spread of harmful anti-Rohingyas content in Myanmar, and the company still failed to act. Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General stated that in the months leading up to the human rights violations and atrocities against Rohingyas, Facebook’s algorithms were creating a massive storm of hatred against Rohingyas which in turn contributed to real-world violence. She further urged that Meta should be held accountable for the atrocities that were meted out to Rohingyas and should provide reparations. The report further added that Meta failed to conduct human rights due diligence on its part in Myanmar, despite having the responsibility under international standards. Agnès Callamard also reiterated that there exists a risk of Meta contributing further to human rights abuses if fundamental changes are not made by the company in its model and algorithms. She urged that there was a need for urgent reforms in the algorithmic systems of meta for preventing any further abuses and also ensure that the same is not repeated in the future, especially where there is intensifying ethnic violence. She also called for introducing and enforcing legislation for surveillance-based models across the technology sector to protect human rights.


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