Weekly News Recap (7-13 November 2022)

© Photo by Julien Harneis via Flickr




UN: Independent Commission of Inquiry Commenced Public Hearings to Investigate Allegation of Israelis and Palestinian Authorities

On 7 November 2022, the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry commenced the public hearings in Geneva on the alleged human rights violations in the Palestinian territories. The commission was established by the UN Human Rights Council and seeks to examine the allegations of both parties within five days of hearings. The hearings have been widely criticised by Israel. The first set of hearings aims to look into the closure orders of several Palestinian organisations by Israel in August and the killing of the Palestinian-American reporter, Shireen Abu Akleh in May. The UN rights office has in its findings suggested that the reporter was intentionally killed by the Israeli forces while Israeli investigation concluded that she was killed unintentionally by an Israeli soldier. The UN Human Rights Council does not have legal powers but its investigations are used as evidence in national and international courts.



New Zealand: Brenton Tarrant Filed an Appeal Against His Life Imprisonment Verdict

On 8 November 2022, Brenton Tarrant, a self-proclaimed white supremacist who killed Muslim worshippers at two Christchurch mosques in March 2019, filed an appeal against his conviction and life imprisonment sentence. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of 51 people and the attempted murder of 40 others at two Christchurch mosques. He used military-style semi-automatic weapons and shot at the Muslims gathered for Friday prayers while livestreaming the act on social media. This was the first case where a New Zealand court sentenced someone to life imprisonment. Considering the magnitude of the crime Judge Cameron Mander imposed the toughest possible term. According to Tarrant’s then-lawyer, he was considering an appeal in November 2021 claiming the guilty plea was obtained under duress and that he was subjected “inhuman and degrading treatment” while being held on remand. The dates of the hearing have yet to be decided upon.


ICC: Prosecutor Announced Submission of New Arrest Warrant Applications for Crimes in Libya

On 9 November 2022, in the first briefing by an International Criminal Court (“ICC”) Prosecutor, to the United Nations Security Council from Libyan soil, Mr. Karim Khan announced that new confidential arrest warrant applications in relation to the crimes in Libya have been submitted to the ICC.  Further details could not be provided due to the confidential nature of the procedure wherein the judges of the ICC will determine whether the warrants are to be issued or not. The Prosecutor further said that more applications will be filed, and it will be a challenge to make sure there are enough resources to prioritise the Libya situation and to justify the promise of the Security Council in Resolution 1970. In February 2011, the Security Council unanimously referred Libya to The Hague, Netherlands-based ICC to launch an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.



France: Liberian War Criminal Kunti Kamara Appealed Against the Guilty Verdict

On 9 November 2022, Kunti Kamara, a Liberian war criminal who was found guilty on 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes and was sentenced to life imprisonment filed for an appeal against the verdict. Kamara was convicted for the crimes he committed in 1993 as a commander for the United Liberation Movement for Democracy (Ulimo). He denied all the charges and further accused the witnesses of lying. The defence believed it to be an unfair trial based only on the testimony of the witnesses. Kamara was informed that he can file an appeal within 10 days from the date of the verdict. An appeal implies that a new court and a jury will hear the case in accordance with French laws. The date of the hearing has yet not been decided.

For previous developments see: https://peacehumanity.org/2022/11/06/weekly-news-recap-31-october-6-november-2022/


The Netherlands: Court Declared Extradition of 66-Year-Old Rwandan Man for Criminal Prosecution Inadmissible

On 9 November 2022, in the case of extradition of a 66-year-old man living in the Netherlands, the court declared the extradition request of the Rwandan authorities as inadmissible. The Rwandan authorities made the extradition request to prosecute the man for his involvement in the genocide and crimes against humanity committed during April-July 1994 in Rwanda. The court based its findings on the files and public sources and observed that there were objectively justified doubts about the judicial independence in Rwanda and that there is a risk of political involvement in the trial. Considering the person claimed is a former high-ranking soldier in the then Rwandan army and has been politically active in a political party of Rwanda which the Rwandan government had categorised as a terrorist organisation, it sufficiently proved that his extradition will expose him to the risk of violation of his right to a fair hearing in the case. 


Sweden: Swedish Court Holds the Authority to Hear the Case of Alleged War Crimes Committed in Sudan

On 10 November 2022, the Supreme Court while rejecting the appeal by Alex Schneiter, 60, former Swiss boss of the Swedish oil group Lundin Oil held that the Swedish Court has the jurisdiction to try an indictment concerning war crimes committed outside of Sweden. The charges were brought against two people. According to the prosecutors, the defendants as representatives of companies within the Swedish oil company group Lundin Oil who allegedly committed war crimes in Sudan between 1999 and 2003. The court observed that the legislators intended universal jurisdiction to only be exercised when there is a clear and legitimate interest for prosecution in Sweden, and in this case, the prosecution claims that the defendant Schneiter has committed the acts as an agent of a Swedish business group either alone or together with a Swedish citizen and that is enough to justify the Swedish interest for prosecution.




India: Convicts of the Assassination of ex-Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi Released

On 12 November 2022, the last co-conspirators who were jailed for the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (‘Gandhi’) have been released after orders from the country’s Supreme Court. Gandhi was killed by a female suicide bomber during an election rally in the southern state of Tamil Nabu, in a plot by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a Sri Lankan armed separatist group. The Court allowed the release of the six convicts, following their ‘satisfactory conduct’ in prison and their completion of more than 30 years in jail. Gandhi’s killing ‘was seen as a response to his move to send Indian forces to Sri Lanka in 1987 to disarm the Tamil rebels.’ Indian lost more than 1 000 men in the then-ongoing struggle against the rebels before withdrawing their troops. The state governments in Tamil and Nadu had previously made repeated calls for the convicts to be free.


Germany: UK Embassy Guard Pleaded Guilty to Spying Charges and Passing on Information to Russia

On 12 November 2022, David Ballantyne Smith, employed as a security guard in Berlin for the United Kingdom’s Embassy pleaded guilty to eight offences under the Official Secrets Act. He was arrested in August 2021 and extradited to the UK. He pleaded guilty to passing on information useful to Russia. He passed on the information of UK civil servants to Major General Sergey Chukhurov, described in the prosecution indictment as the Russian military attaché to Berlin, between October and December 2020 and admitted seven other charges relating to collecting information which might be “useful to an enemy.” A draft letter was extracted from his electronic devices dated May 2020 in which he offered his services to a Russian diplomat. Smith faces a maximum jail term of 14 years for spying. The next hearing will take place in February 2023.



Uganda: Ebola Death Toll Reaches 51

On 6 November 2022, the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Uganda reported 132 cases of the Ebola Virus disease and a death toll of 51 people which includes six healthcare workers. The outbreak began almost 50 days ago, and the number of cases has continued to rise. The International Rescue Committee (“IRC”) reported that the MoH is researching treatment options for this strain; however, the rate of infection is high, and all treatment trials will take time, increasing the risk of further spreading. The IRC made note of the high cost involved in effectively executing mitigation efforts, such as contact tracing, public sensitisation and community health care structures, and as such, called for increased funding for aid agencies to stop the rapid spread. 


UN: Syria’s Chemical Weapons Declaration Not Compliant

On 7 November 2022, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu told the UN Security Council that gaps, and inconsistencies continue over Syria’s chemical weapons stance. She stated that efforts to organise the 25th round of consultations between the Syrian National Authority and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) had been unsuccessful and the continued unresolved inconsistencies meant Syria was non-compliant. In 2019, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) provided Syria with a list of pending declarations, highlighting 20 unresolved issues which are all still pending as of 7 November 2022. This declaration comes at a time when humanitarian conditions in Syria are worsening. Syrian NGOs announced that thousands of children in northwest Syria are being denied access to proper healthcare and education whilst living in danger amid a cholera outbreak, the onset of a harsh winter and a worsening economy. Syrian NGOs are calling on international partners and donors to release crucial funding. 



UNHCR: Global Leaders Must Not Forget Displaced People at COP27

On 7 November 2022, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (“Grandi”) urged global leaders at Climate Change Conference (COP27) to ‘equip the countries and communities on the frontline of the climate crisis […] minimise the impact of the climate emergency.’ COP27 began in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on 6 November 2022 amid a series of climate disasters, including floods in Pakistan and droughts in Africa which have affected vulnerable communities and led to more displaced people. The climate crisis coincides with conflict, food insecurity, rising prices and health crisis and those least responsible and least adaptable are being affected the hardest. Grandi told leaders that the world cannot leave millions of displaced people to deal with the consequences of climate change alone. Seventy per cent of the world’s displaced people and refugees come from climate-vulnerable countries such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and Yemen; however, they are often excluded from discussions. 


North and South Korea: New Images of Missile Launches Released by North Korea Amid Simultaneous US-South Korea Military Drills

On 7 November 2022, North Korea released images of an intercontinental ballistic missile launch (ICBM) and condemned recent military drills between South Korea and the United States. North Korea fired multiple missiles whilst the aforementioned countries extended their air drills from five to six days in response to North Korea’s tests. The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said that North Korea will continue to respond to military drills between South Korea and the United States with “overwhelming practical military measures.” Hundreds of US and South Korean warplanes took part in the drill, and it was the first time B-1B bombers have flown to the Korean peninsula since December 2017. North Korea’s missile launches totaled 23 on that same day, with one of them landing 16 miles south of the Northern Limit Line. This line is an unofficial maritime border, and it is the first time a missile has landed that close since the Korean War armistice in 1953. Al Jazeera reported that US-South Korea drills trigger a strong reaction from North Korea as they see them as rehearsals for an invasion. 


UNICEF: Escalating Conflict in the DRC Poses an Increased Threat to Displaced Children

On 8 November 2022, it was reported that thousands of children are fleeing fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”) and are in danger of health and security risks in overcrowded and unsanitary camps. Internally displaced persons (IDP) are arriving daily at camps and humanitarian aid is becoming more restricted as the security situation escalates. Fighting between the Congolese armed forces and non-state armed group M23 has intensified in the east of the DRC since 20 October 2022, which has led to thousands of displaced people. About 100 000 people have been displaced since the beginning of November, fleeing to makeshift and overcrowded camps in the north-east provinces of Goma and Lubero. Many displaced people do not have shelter to sleep under, and those shelters that they do, are often destroyed by frequent rainstorms. Shortages of clean water are also putting them at risk of a cholera epidemic. UNICEF reported that 190 children have been separated from their families or caregivers during the recent conflicts and warned that the likelihood of unaccompanied children will almost certainly increase as the crisis continues. 


Bangladesh: UN Expert Urges Bangladeshi Authorities to Step Up Efforts for Protecting Victims of Trafficking

On 9 November 2022, a UN human rights expert called upon the Bangladeshi authorities to increase their efforts to prevent the trafficking of persons and urged authorities to improve the rights and protection for victims. Ms Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on Trafficking of Persons, after her 10-day visit to the region, highlighted that child trafficking was a significant risk and needs to be addressed urgently by way of expanding child protection. She urged the Bangladeshi authorities to increase their efforts in preventing the trafficking of persons at risk of sexual exploitation, especially people of diverse gender identities. She highlighted that it was essential to expand child protection, increase efforts with birth registration and end to child marriage. She also noted that children of sex workers were at a higher risk of being trafficked as their births are not often registered. 


UNHCR: Changing Patterns of Displacement in Americas Pose Various Challenges 

On 9 November 2022, Raouf Mazou, UN Refugee Agency, Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, highlighted that increased challenges are being faced in the Americas concerning the changing trend in displacement and that a need for a regional response was required. He stated that the patterns of displacement in the region were of concern, as they are continuously posing new changes for States to address. A five-fold increase in asylum claims have been witnessed in Costa Rica in the first six months of the year, as compared to the same period last year, while there was more than a 14 per cent increase in asylum claims in Mexico. On his visit to Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala and Canada, the UNHCR official heard from refugees about their plight and the risks they take in finding protection and rebuilding their lives. He acknowledged that Canada played an important role in providing solutions to refugees, along with strengthening its asylum policies. He also noted that further support was needed for strengthening asylum procedures while also implementing supporting pathways of protection.


UNSC: Terrorism Along with Threats of Armed Conflict, Inequality and Poverty in Africa Converge

On 10 November 2022, while briefing the UN Security Council, Amina Mohammed, UN Duty Chief highlighted that the activities of Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their affiliates have intensified across Africa with terrorism becoming a huge threat to international peace and security in the region. She highlighted that terrorism has killed thousands of people and continues to impact their lives and livelihoods. She underscored that combating international terrorism remained the duty of not just African states but the international community and that a” multilateral response” was required. She also noted that terrorism is intersecting with other threats of climate emergency, armed conflict, poverty and inequality. She outlined five suggestions for countering terror in the region and highlighted that “prevention” was the best solution while calling for addressing the existing instability and conflict in the region. She further called for “sustained and predictable funding” in order to combat terrorism in the region. 


UNGA: Assembly Passes Resolution Urging Afghanistan to Honour and Respect all Treaties

Csaba Kőrösi, UN General Assembly President, warned that two-thirds of Afghans were on the verge of hunger with crime and terrorism continuing in the region and an increase in opium production, intensifying the problem. He further noted that the international community needs to support Afghanistan in order to achieve sustainable peace in the region. He also added that Afghanistan was the only State in the world which was denying girls the right to an education. He called upon the Taliban and members of the international community to cooperate with the Special Representative. An appeal has been made to make up the remaining $2.3 billion of the $4.4 billion UN humanitarian aid needed. The UN General Assembly passed a resolution which expressed grave concern over the current situation in the region and also urged the country to fully respect and implement all treaties, covenants and conventions. The resolution was adopted by the General Assembly with 116 votes and 10 abstentions. 


OHCHR: UN Experts Urge Iranian Authorities to Immediately End the Death Penalty for Peaceful Protesters

On 11 November 2022, UN experts urged Iranian authorities to stop detaining and convicting people for participating in peaceful demonstrations with death sentences. On 29 October 2022, eight people were charged by the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran with crimes carrying the punishment of death, namely “waging war against God” and “corruption on Earth.” UN experts request the immediate end of the death penalty as an instrument for quashing protests. They further reiterated their call for releasing all the protestors who have been arbitrarily detained for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of opinion, expression, association and peaceful assembly. As of 16 September 2022, thousands of protestors have been detained including children and human rights defenders. According to UN experts, the crackdown on peaceful demonstrations has continued relentlessly, with 304 people killed which includes 24 women and 41 children. They further called upon the Human Rights Council to take prompt and critical action for holding a Special Session on the current situation in Iran and establish an international investigative mechanism for ensuring accountability in Iran, and also end the continued violation of human rights. 


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