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- Iran: Court Issued First Death Sentence Against an Anti-Government Protestor
- Kenya: Police Officers Accused of Murdering an Infant Appeared Before the Court
- Kosovo: Goran Stanisic’s War Crimes Sentence Reduced by Five Years
- Pakistan: Men Accused of Killing Chinese Engineers Sentenced to Death Penalty
- Kuwait: Seven People Executed in the First Mass Execution Since 2017
- USA: Court Gives Biden Administration Five Weeks to End Title 42 Policy
- Serbia: Bosnian Serb Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Killing Elderly Bosniak Couple
- The Netherlands: Court Found Three Suspects Guilty Over the Downing of MH17
- UN: Highest Number of Civilian Casualties in Somalia Recorded Since 2017
- Haiti: Record Number of People Face Hunger Crisis as Cholera Outbreak Continues
- EU: European Political Groups Draft Resolutions to Declare Russia a Terrorist State
- Pakistan: Continued Humanitarian Aid Needed as Effects of Deadly Floods Become Clear
- UN: Calls for Unlawfully Detained Peaceful Protestors in Iran to be Released
- UNHCR: Collaborative Climate Mitigation Policies Needed Urgently to Prevent Exacerbation of Conflict in the Region Due to Climate Change
- Sudan: UN High Commissioner Urges Human Rights to be at the Center of the Democratic Transition in the Region
- UNICEF: Discrimination and Racism Against Children ‘Hurts Us All’
- FAO: Millions Lack Access to Food in Peru Amongst Rising Prices
- Bangladesh: UN Expert Urges the Prioritise, Recognise and Protect Human Rights of Older Persons
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION
Iran: Court Issued First Death Sentence Against an Anti-Government Protestor
On 14 November 2022, in a case linked to the ongoing protests in Iran, the court sentenced a protestor to death and sent several “rioters” to jail. The protestor, who was sentenced to death was accused of “setting fire to a government centre, disturbing public order and collusion for committing crimes against national security” as well as “moharebeh” (waging war against God) and “corruption on Earth.” Five more protestors were sentenced to five and ten years of jail term on national security-related charges. The Court further clarified that the verdict was preliminary and requires the appeals court’s confirmation to be considered final. Last week, lawmakers with a majority vote called for the judiciary to give the toughest punishments for crimes against the state. This was the first verdict since the alleged police killing of Mahsa Amini in September which has sparked the longest major demonstrations against the state. Nearly 15 000 protestors have been arrested in the last two months. Several protestors face charges that can carry the death penalty.
For previous developments see:
Kenya: Police Officers Accused of Murdering an Infant Appeared Before the Court
On 14 November 2022, police officers accused of killing an infant during a violent crackdown on post-election protests in 2017 appeared before a Nairobi court. Samantha Pendo was only six months old when she was beaten to death by the police during a raid on her parents’ house in the bloody aftermath of the disputed 2017 presidential election. An autopsy report showed that due to the force of the police, the infant suffered acute head injuries which caused her scalp to crack. She became a symbol of unchecked police brutality. Nine out of the twelve suspects appeared before the court but did not submit any plea. They will return to court on 21 November to answer charges of murder. Kenyan Prosecutors plan to hold police officers responsible for the crimes committed in 2017, including crimes against humanity.
Kosovo: Goran Stanisic’s War Crimes Sentence Reduced by Five Years
On 14 November 2022, the Court of Appeal reduced Goran Stanisic’s sentence by five years, as the time he has already spent in jail will be counted against his sentence. Stanisic was sentenced to twenty years in prison in October 2021 at Pristina Basic Court for war crimes against ethnic Albanian civilians in the town of Lipjan/Lipljan during the Kosovo war in 1999. Stanisic was a reservist policeman with the Serbian Interior Ministry and was involved in the murder of thirteen civilians. He committed the crimes on 15-16 April 1999, during an attack by Serbian military and police forces on the Albanian civilian population in the villages of Sllovi and Terboc in the Lipjan/Lipljan municipality.
Pakistan: Men Accused of Killing Chinese Engineers Sentenced to Death Penalty
On 15 November 2022, a Pakistani anti-terrorism court found two men, accused of killing 13 people in a suicide attack, guilty and sentenced them to death. The victims were attacked in July 2021 in an explosion that caused the bus carrying the workers to the Dasu Hydropower Project in Upper Kohistan to fall into a ravine. The incident injured twenty more people. According to Pakistan’s then-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the attack was carried out by an armed group called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and was allegedly planned in Afghanistan. China condemned the attack and called for Pakistan to ensure the safety of its nationals in the South Asian country.
Kuwait: Seven People Executed in the First Mass Execution Since 2017
On 16 November 2022, seven people were hanged in a mass execution on the charges of murder. The seven inmates that were executed included four Kuwaitis, a Pakistani, a Syrian and an Ethiopian national. Two of the seven were women. This is the first mass execution since 2017 when seven people were also executed. On Tuesday, Amnesty International urged for the execution to be halted and called it a “violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.” The verdict came a few days after Saudi Arabia said it had executed two Pakistani nationals for smuggling heroin. Kuwait introduced the death penalty in the mid-1960s and has since executed dozens of people. The death penalty is frequently used as a form of punishment in the Gulf region and in particular by Iran and Saudi Arabia.
USA: Court Gives Biden Administration Five Weeks to End Title 42 Policy
On 16 November 2022, in a 49-page judgment, US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan called the Title 42 policy “arbitrary and capricious” and violative of federal regulatory laws. The Title 42 policy introduced in March 2020 permitted the authorities to expel hundreds of asylum seekers arriving at the southern border with Mexico. The policy exposes asylum seekers and refugees to danger. More than 2.4 million Title 42 expulsions have been carried out at the US-Mexico border since the policy was first put in place. Human Rights Groups and activists have widely criticised the policy as a violation of international and US laws. In a separate statement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated that it needed five weeks to “prepare for an orderly transition at the border.” Judge Sullivan granted the request and added that the order halting the border expulsion policy will take effect at midnight on 21 December 2022.
Serbia: Bosnian Serb Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Killing Elderly Bosniak Couple
On 16 November 2022, the Belgrade Higher Court sentenced Danko Vladicic to nine years in prison for murdering an elderly couple in the Bosnian town of Brod na Drini on 18 August 1992. Ramo and Tima Vranjaca were the only Bosniak civilians left in the town, as the other residents fled. The Judge observed that based on the testimonies of the witnesses it was clear that Vladicic’s motive for the crime was revenge for the death of his cousin during the war. Vladicic denied all the charges. Vladicic’s cousin Dragomir Krnjojelac served as a Bosnian Serb Army soldier and died on the front line in 1992. Ten days after his cousin’s death Vladicic entered Ramo and Tima Vranjaca’s apartment in Brod na Drini and shot them dead. It was further established in the indictment that Vladicic was not a member of any armed group. Vladicic was initially indicted for the crimes in February 2019 by the District Public Prosecutor’s Office in Trebinje in Bosnia and the Serbian Prosecutor’s Office for War Crimes then took over the case and indicted him in February 2021. The verdict is a first instance ruling and can be appealed.
The Netherlands: Court Found Three Suspects Guilty Over the Downing of MH17
On 17 November 2022, in the case of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which led to the death of 298 people on board in 2014, The Hague District Court found three out of four suspects guilty. Eight years after the incident, two Russians and a Ukrainian were found guilty of murder and intentionally causing an aircraft to crash. A fourth suspect, Russian national Oleg Pulatov was acquitted. The three men were sentenced to life in prison however, they are not likely to serve their sentences anytime soon as they remain at large. The Court observed that only the most severe punishment is fitting for the crime the convicts have committed. Prosecutors and the suspects have two weeks to file an appeal.
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION
UN: Highest Number of Civilian Casualties in Somalia Recorded Since 2017
On 14 November 2022, the United Nations (“UN”) reported a sharp increase in the number of civilian deaths in Somalia by the extremist group Al Shabaab, worsening the country’s humanitarian situation. The latest UN figures reported that at least 613 civilians have been killed so far in 2022 which is the highest number of deaths in Somalia since 2017. More than half of the number of civilians killed (315) was caused by improvised explosive devices (“IEDs”). The UN stated that the majority of these were by Al Shabaab; however, some casualties have been due to government forces, militia and “other unidentified actors.” In addition to IEDs, Al Shabaab uses suicide bombing tactics, with the most recent attack near the Ministry of Education in the capital of Mogadishu (29 October 2022) which killed 121 people and injured 33. The group has also destroyed wells and poisoned water sources, at a time when Somalia is facing a widespread drought. The High Commissioner, Volker Türk, stressed the need for accountability for the “gross violations of international law” adding that this is necessary to end the decades of violence in Somalia.
Haiti: Record Number of People Face Hunger Crisis as Cholera Outbreak Continues
On 14 November 2022, Save the Children reported that more than 19 000 people, including about 9 600 children, are facing catastrophic levels of hunger for the first time in Haiti. The number of people facing crisis levels of hunger also rose to 4.7 million in November 2022 compared to 4.3 million in February 2022. The rising levels of hunger are due to political unrest and a worsening economic crisis that is increasing food and fuel prices. Haiti is also facing its worst cholera outbreak since 2010. People 19 years and under makeup more than 41 per cent of the 6 800 confirmed and are more vulnerable to the spread of the disease. Making matters worse, malnourished children are three times more likely to die if they contract the disease. Save the Children is warning that thousands of lives in Haiti could be lost due to starvation and cholera.
EU: European Political Groups Draft Resolutions to Declare Russia a Terrorist State
On 15 November 2022, three European political groups drafted similar resolutions demanding the European Parliament declare Russia a terrorist state for the “intimidation and destruction of Ukrainians as a nation.” The resolutions are being prepared by the centre-right European People’s Party (“EPP”), Renew Europe and the European Conservatives and Reformists. The resolution by the EPP accuses Russia of perpetrating atrocities against Ukraine and the “mass murder” of civilians. The party claims that Russia goes beyond sponsoring terrorism and because of the direct government participation in the invasion, the state itself should be declared a terrorist. In addition to this, the resolutions demand the financial assets frozen under EU sanctions should be confiscated and used to finance Ukraine’s construction. The EU’s terrorist list contains only 13 individuals and 21 entities, and no state has ever been added to the list. The groups plan to put their resolutions to a vote next week and although parliamentary resolutions are not legally binding, they can carry a heavy symbolic weight.
Pakistan: Continued Humanitarian Aid Needed as Effects of Deadly Floods Become Clear
During the climate conference, COP27, Amnesty International called for increased humanitarian assistance, climate adaptation and debt relief to address the urgent needs of Pakistan after the deadly floods. Between June and August 2022, heavy flooding in Pakistan led to an “unprecedented climate-induced disaster” which affected around 33 million people, killing 1 600, injuring 12 800 and leading to, around 7.9 million people, being internally displaced. The floods also led to 1.1 million livestock being killed and 9.4 million acres of crops being flooded, which has had disastrous consequences for communities’ agricultural production. In October 2022, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (“UNOCHA”) identified 20.6 million people to “be in need”, highlighting huge funding gaps. For example, the United Nations Children’s Fund (“UNICEF”) reported a funding gap of 85 per cent and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (“FAO”) reported a gap of 94 per cent. Amnesty International warned that as time passes, international attention on the crisis will fade and the humanitarian aid needed to address Pakistan’s crisis will not be available. Without adequate and coordinated protection it will be impossible to protect the lives of Pakistanis.
UN: Calls for Unlawfully Detained Peaceful Protestors in Iran to be Released
On 15 November 2022, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, called for Iranian authorities to revoke the death sentences of at least 10 protestors and to release the thousands currently imprisoned. Nationwide protests erupted across the country after the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in September 2022. The UN stated that human rights law protects the rights of people to peacefully protest, and Iranian authorities are defying this. On 13 November 2022, the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced the first protestor to death for “waging a war against God” and “corruption on earth” and at least nine other protestors have been charged with these offences which carry the death penalty. Under international law, countries that have yet to abolish the death penalty can only impose it for the “most serious crimes” and the UN declared that such charges in Iran do not qualify, as the alleged crimes are not of extreme gravity, i.e., intentional killing. The OHCHR spokesperson called on Iran to “immediately impose a moratorium on the death penalty.” News reports state that the protests have spread to at least 140 towns and cities across the country with Iranian authorities killing over 300 people.
UNHCR: Collaborative Climate Mitigation Policies Needed Urgently to Prevent Exacerbation of Conflict in the Region Due to Climate Change
On 16 November 2022, Sahel Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, the UN Special Coordinator for Development in Sahel and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warned that without investing in climate mitigation, countries in the Sahel are at risk of intensifying armed conflict and displacement. The report titled “Moving from Reaction to Action: Anticipating Vulnerability Hotspots in Sahel” highlighted that without assessing the impacts of climate change, Sahelian communities will continue to suffer as the risk of devastating floods, droughts, and continued heatwaves, will further amplify conflict in the region as it will decimate water resources, livestock and livelihoods. Communities in the region are highly dependent on farming and pastoralism, and food insecurity in the region has already reached emergency levels. It is projected that the yields of sorghum, maize and millet will further decline due to climate change. Andrew Harper, UNHCR Special Advisor for Climate Action underscored that a collective effort in climate mitigation and adaptation could only resolve the existing humanitarian crisis. It has been predicted that temperatures in the Sahel would increase by 2.5°C even with collaborative climate mitigation policies, and if there is any further delay an increase by 4.3°C could be witnessed.
Sudan: UN High Commissioner Urges Human Rights to be at the Center of the Democratic Transition in the Region
On 16 November 2022, Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, following his visit to Sudan highlighted that the country had been left “at a decisive fork in the road” after the former dictator, Omar Al-Bashir was ousted. He further urged that all parties involved should set aside their personal interests and power positions and focus on the common interests and needs of the Sudanese people. He also highlighted that the future of the country depends upon “a bold step towards consensus” and using human rights reaction as “the driving force.” He also highlighted the humanitarian situation in the country, stating that one-third of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance with 3.7 million displaced, and 7 million children out of school. He stressed the importance of implementing the Juba Peace Agreement in order to restore civilian authority in the region, which would be a step towards peace. He assured that the OHCHR would work to improve and strengthen State capacity along with promotion and protection of human rights.
UNICEF: Discrimination and Racism Against Children ‘Hurts Us All’
On 17 November 2022, a new report was released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which highlighted the impact of racism and discrimination on children. Catherine Russel, UNICEF Executive Director highlighted that children were at risk of deprivation and exclusion due to systemic racism and discrimination, which can have long-lasting effects on children’s quality of life. The report also highlighted that children who were from marginalised ethnic, linguistic and religious groups lagged behind their peers. The report’s findings also stated that children who were from an advantageous group were more likely to have better foundational reading skills than children from marginalised groups. The report analysed data on birth registration which highlighted disparities when it comes to children from marginalised groups; in that, they are less likely to be registered which hinders access to basic rights. UNICEF Executive Director underscored that every child should have the right to be included and protected. The report also highlights that discrimination has existed for such a long period of time that children from minority and ethnic groups lack access to immunisation, water and sanitation services and a fair justice system.
FAO: Millions Lack Access to Food in Peru Amongst Rising Prices
On 17 November 2022, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) highlighted that Peru has become the most food-insecure country in South America. More than half the population (16.6m) are unable to access safe and nutritious food. A 2021 study conducted by FAO highlighted that 51% of the population in the country has been living with moderate food insecurity, while 20% of that group fell under the category of acute food insecurity. The agency highlighted that poverty in the region was one of the major causes; with a poverty rate of 25%, meaning that one in four Peruvians is unable to afford basic food. The FAO also pointed out that with the increase in food prices and energy, factors like government mismanagement, poor dietary habits and dependence upon imported food staples and fertilisers had also contributed towards the food crisis in the region.
Bangladesh: UN Expert Urges the Prioritise, Recognise and Protect Human Rights of Older Persons
On 17 November 2022, Claudia Mahler, UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons urged Bangladesh to take concrete steps towards ensuring the rights and protections of older people in the region. Upon concluding her visit to the country, the UN expert welcomed the adoption of the National Policy on Older Persons by Bangladesh, although she expressed her concern over the lack of a concrete implementation plan. She also called upon the Bangladeshi government to recognise the contributions of older people and to enhance support and protection to a growing proportion of the population that is not recognised and who often feel invisible. She also urged the government to pay particular attention to older people living in vulnerable situations and to implement measures which would reduce the effect of climate change, particularly since, geriatric healthcare was scarce. Even though she applauded the Old Age Allowance which provides a non-contributory safety net to benefit older individuals, she highlighted that more funding is needed and that under the current system the cost of medicine is barely covered.