Weekly News Recap (21-27 November 2022)

© Photo by Taymaz Valley via Flickr




Germany: Prosecutors Demand Conviction of Former Nazi Concentration Camp Secretary

On 22 November 2022, in what is described as the country’s last trials over the Holocaust, the German prosecutors sought a two-year suspended sentence for a former Nazi concentration camp secretary. According to the prosecutors, Irmgard Furchner was guilty of murdering more than 10 000 people at the Stutthof camp in occupied Poland. Furchner is the first woman to be tried in Germany for Nazi-era crimes in decades. She was a teenager at the time the alleged crimes were committed and is being tried in a juvenile court. During 1943 and 1945, she worked in the office of camp commander Paul Werner Hoppe and is alleged to have aided and abetted those in charge of the camp in the systematic killing of those imprisoned there. Closing arguments are to continue on November 29.



The Netherlands: Dutch State Ordered to Pay Financial Compensation for the 2007 Afghanistan Bombing

On 23 November 2022, the District Court of the Hague held Dutch forces responsible for unlawfully bombing a residential complex in Afghanistan in 2007. The court observed that the attack led to the death of 20 civilians and violated international humanitarian laws. The Dutch state was ordered to pay financial compensation to the victims. The Dutch were fighting in Afghanistan as part of the US-led coalition. The defence ministry argued that the buildings were being used by the Taliban at the time the military hit the walled compound. However, the Taliban had left the location 12 hours before the bombing. The court held that the military did not have enough information to describe the compound as a military target. Almost 250 Afghans and 80 civilians died in the three days of fighting which is also referred to as the Battle of Chora. The defence ministry is ready to consider the verdict.


Russia: Opposition Politician Ilya Yashin Put on Trial for Denouncing War in Ukraine

On 23 November 2022, Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin was put on trial for condemning the Russia-Ukraine war. Yashin refused to leave after President Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24. He was arrested in June and faces up to 10 years in prison. He is accused of spreading fake information about the Russian army under legislation passed after the attacks on Ukraine began. Mr Yashin, a 39-year-old Moscow city councillor, was arrested after uploading a YouTube stream in which he spoke about the murder of civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, calling it a massacre. The Russian military is accused of war crimes in that region. He further accused the judges of Russia of acting as “political servants of the Kremlin.” Most opposition activists are either in jail or exile.


Canada: Canada’s Barrick Gold Sued for Police Killings and Abuses at Gold Mine

On 23 November 2022, a Canadian mining giant, Barrick Gold, is being sued in the Superior Court of Justice (Ontario) by a group of Tanzanians for the alleged police killings, torture and other abuses at a gold mine in northwestern Tanzania. It accused Barrick Gold of being complicit in extrajudicial killings by police officers guarding its North Mara facility, located about 30km (18 miles) from the border with Kenya. The claim has been filed by the families of five men killed by Tanzanian police assigned to the mine while other plaintiffs were themselves beaten and shot by the police. The filing claims that Barrick “had effective and practical control” over the Tanzanian police stationed at the mine, and the security agreement between the company and the Tanzanian police made them a private and heavily armed security force of the mine. This is the first case filed against Barrick Gold in a Canadian court for the alleged crimes committed abroad.


ICC: Pre-Trial Chamber Requested to Hold a Hearing to Confirm the Charges Against Joseph Kony

On 24 November 2022, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim A.A. Khan KC, requested the Pre-trial Chamber II to hold a hearing on confirmation of charges against Joseph Kony in his absence. Kony is the ICC’s longest-standing suspect at large. An arrest warrant was issued against him in 2005 on 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is accused of committing murder, rape, enslavement, cruel treatment and attack against civilians. He has managed to evade the proceedings at this Court for more than 17 years despite continuing efforts by the ICC to locate and apprehend him. Thus, the Prosecutor is now requesting the Pre-Trial Chamber to hold a hearing for the confirmation of charges in his absence under Article 61(2)(b) of the Rome Statute and Rules 123 and 125 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. According to the Prosecutor, if the charges are confirmed in his absence, future proceedings after his arrest could be conducted faster and more efficiently.


Algeria: Dozens of People Sentenced to Execution Over Lynching of Man Falsely Accused of Starting Forest Fires

On 25 November 2022, a court in Algeria sentenced 49 people to the death penalty over the lynching of a man falsely accused of starting deadly forest fires. The country has maintained a suspension on carrying out the death penalty since 1993, and it is likely that these sentences will also be reduced. The locals of Algeria’s Tizi Ouzou district beat 38-year-old Djamel Ben Ismail to death and are accused of murdering and mutilating his body. Ismail was falsely accused of starting forest fires in August 2021 which killed 90 people across northern Algeria. It was later found that Ismail, an artist from Miliana, had reached the region as a volunteer to help put out the wildfires. The Court further sentenced 28 other defendants to jail terms of two years to a decade without parole.


Sweden: Trial of Iranian-born Swedish Brothers Charged with Spying for Russia Commenced 

On 25 November 2022, the trial of two Swedish brothers accused of spying for Russia and its military intelligence service GRU for 10 years, opened before the Stockholm District Court. It is alleged that Peyman Kia (42) and Payam Kia (35) worked together to pass information to Russia between 28 September 2011 and 20 September 2021. Peyman Kia worked from 2014-2015 for Sweden’s domestic intelligence agency and armed forces. According to the prosecutors, the data they passed on to Russia originated from several authorities within the Swedish security and intelligence service. The lawyer for the accused said that his client continues to deny the allegations. Peyman Kia was arrested in September 2021 and his brother in November 2021. According to the charge sheet obtained by the Associated Press News Agency, Payam Kia helped his brother dismantle a hard drive which was found in a trash can after his brother’s arrest. Upon conviction, the accused may face sentences up to life imprisonment.


Northern Ireland: British Ex-Soldier Found Guilty of Manslaughter at Border Checkpoint

On 25 November 2022, the Belfast Crown Court found David Holden guilty of killing a man at a border checkpoint during the period of sectarian violence in the region known as the “The Troubles.” Holden killed Aidan McAnespie, 23, in 1988 while he was crossing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This marks the first verdict against British military personnel for historic offences in Northern Ireland during the decades-long communal violence in the region over British occupation. Holden’s claim of firing the gun because his hands were wet was dismissed by the court. The judge observed that Holden deliberately gave false accounts of the incident. The sentence is expected to be imposed in 2023.



Indonesia: 5.6 Magnitude Earthquake in Indonesia Kills At Least 270 People

On 21 November 2022, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit the Cianjur Regency in the West Java Province of Indonesia resulting in the death (as of 26 November) of 271 people, and 40 are still unaccounted for. Most of the victims were children who were at school. Rescuers have reported sifting through the rubble to find survivors, and children described being crushed or trapped after the walls caved in. The earthquake was followed by dozens of aftershocks which caused more damage as poorly constructed buildings collapsed. On 22 November 2022, Plan International Indonesia deployed an emergency response team to distribute aid and conduct assessments of the community’s needs. 



Iran: 40 People Killed in Iran in One Week During Protests

On 22 November 2022, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced that more than 40 people have been killed in Iran in the last week during ongoing nationwide protests; that was triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. The 22-year-old was arrested in September by Iran’s morality police after not wearing her hijab properly. In addition to this, six people have been sentenced to death on charges of ‘waging war against God’ and ‘corruption on Earth.’ According to the United Nations (UN), two 16-year-old boys were amongst the six people killed over the weekend. More than 300 people have been killed, including 40 children, since 16 September. The OHCHR also stated their concerns that authorities refused to release the bodies of those who died to their family members and added that they did not know the reason why. Iranian authorities stated that an unspecified number of security force personnel have also been killed since the protests began.


For Prior Developments See: https://peacehumanity.org/2022/11/20/weekly-news-recap-14-20-november-2022/#13

Yemen: UN Urges for Renew Peace Truce in Yemen

On 22 November 2022, the UN Envoy for Yemen told the Security Council about the urgent need to reach an agreement and renew the truce in Yemen between the Iranian, rebel-backed Houthis and the internationally supported government coalition. The UN Envoy’s announcement comes days after a report by Save the Children stated how one child in Yemen has been killed or injured every day in 2022. The UN-mediated truce in Yemen expired on 2 October and despite the lack of a “full-fledged war”, attacks by Houthi forces on government oil infrastructures demonstrated the vulnerability of the economic and humanitarian situation in the country. The attacks risk triggering further military and economic escalation which will lead to further deterioration of humanitarian conditions. The UN emphasised that a renewed truce and sustainable commitment towards a comprehensive resolution is the only chance of “reversing the devastating trends of this war.”


Save the Children: Number of Children Killed in the West Bank Reaches the Highest in 15 Years

On 23 November 2022, Save the Children reported that the number of children killed by Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank reached 34 this year which is the highest number since 2006. Violence in the West Bank has increased due to the extension of Israeli settlements, Israeli military raids and Palestinian attacks. Palestinian families have also been subjected to movement restrictions imposed by Israeli security forces which have impacted their access to essential services, including children’s education. The organisation’s statement comes after the death of three teenagers in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Save the Children calls for an immediate end to the use of live ammunition against children by Israeli forces and for the accountability of all killings which is necessary to break the cycle of violence and de-escalate the situation.


IOM: More than 50,000 People Have Died on Migratory Journeys since 2014

On 23 November 2022, the International Organisation for Migration (“IOM”) announced that more than 50 000 people have died during migratory journeys since 2014, when IOM first started documenting. The report highlighted that despite the increasing loss of life little has been done by governments in countries of origin, transit, and destination to address this crisis. In addition, over 30 000 people (60 per cent) of the total number are of an unknown nationality suggesting that over half of the families of the people who died are unable to track them. From the identified migrants, the top three countries of origin were: Afghanistan, Syria and Myanmar, all countries devastated by violent conflict with individuals fleeing to seek refuge abroad. European routes contributed to the largest number of people who are missing and presumed dead, with Africa being the second deadliest route. The report by the IOM stressed obligations under international law to protect the right to life and encouraged international communities to work together to create safe migration pathways.


UNICEF: Cholera Effaces 40% of Children in Haiti Following the Outbreak Two Months Ago 

On 23 November 2022, the United Nations Children’s Fund highlighted that 40 per cent of the confirmed cases of cholera are mostly children, with 90 per cent of the confirmed cases in areas with severe acute malnutrition. Children who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition are more vulnerable to cholera and are three times more likely to die from the disease. Manuel Fontaine, Director of UNICEF’s Office of Emergency Programmes, following his visit to the county underscored that there exists a “triple threat” to children’s lives in the region, i.e malnutrition, cholera and armed violence. He highlighted that a simple and affordable treatment could save the lives of children in the region. UNICEF has appealed for $27.5 million in funds in order to combat the cholera outbreak in the region and provide humanitarian aid with respect to health, water and sanitation, along with providing nutrition to 1.4 million. Furthermore, UNICEF has been continuing to provide and deliver items to health departments with coordination from the national authorities. 


UN: Secretary-General Urges to Take “Transformative Action” to End Violence Against Women and Girls

On 23 November 2022, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, ahead of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, underscored in his message that everyone should “consign violence against women and girls to history books.” He also highlighted that every 11 minutes a woman or girl is killed by an intimate partner or a family member. He underscored that it was time for “transformative action” for ending violence against women and girls while highlighting this year’s theme “UNITE: Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls.” He called upon governments to increase their funding to women’s organisations by 50 per cent by the year 2026 and also stated that supporting women’s rights organisations and feminist movements was the road to ending violence against women and girls. He outlined that involvement from civil society groups at grassroots level was necessary at every level of decision-making and governmental designs, along with the funding needed to tackle this scourge. 


Iran: UNHRC Established Fact Finding Commission to Look into the Deadly Violence Gaits Protesters in the Region

On 24 November 2022, Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner, in a special session held by the United Nations Human Rights Council, urged that the “unnecessary and disproportionate use of force” end. A fact-finding mission has been appointed by the Human Rights Council, to investigate the deadly violence that is being meted out against protesters in Iran. He also highlighted that his office had received various communications from Iran regarding the episode, including ‘domestic investigations’ that have been undertaken by the government. The Iranian representative, Khadijeh Karimi, Deputy of the Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, stated that proper measures had been taken by the authorities in the aftermath of Ms Amini’s death to seek justice. Mr Türk noted that these efforts “have failed to meet international standards of impartiality, independence and transparency.” Moreover, at least five children have been killed despite claims made by Iranian authorities, who refute the alleged killing of children by the security forces, stating “they committed suicide, fell from a height, were poisoned or killed by anonymous ‘enemy agents.’” Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran also underscored that the Iranian authorities had intensified their efforts to silence protesters which included even against children. 


UNEP: Appeal for Funding to Help 4.3 million People Affected by Severe Drought in Kenya

On 24 November 2022, the United Nations along with humanitarian partners made an appeal for 472.6 million (USD), to resolve the drought crisis in Kenya. The appeal includes providing aid and assistance to the 4.3 million people who have been affected by the drought. Inger Andersen, the UN Environment Programme Executive Director, called upon the international community to increase their efforts and show solidarity with communities facing the severe consequences of the worst drought in Kenya’s recent history. The nation would be facing its fifth consecutive below-average rain season from October to December, with projections pointing to the possibility of a sixth season of poor rainfall from March to May. Mr Andersen noted that Kenya, which contributes less than 0.1 per cent of global greenhouse gases, is bearing the brunt of global warming and urgently needs the support of the global community.


UNHCR: Gender-Based Violence Risks Increase as a Result of Conflict, Insecurity, Underfunding and Hunger

On 25 November 2022, the United Nations Refugee Agency highlighted that the risk of gender-based voice was on the rise because of the worsening socio-economic conditions, new conflicts and humanitarian funding shortage. Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, highlighted that a mix of crises – “conflicts, climate, skyrocketing costs and the ripple effects of the Ukraine war” were affecting the forcibly displaced. He also highlighted that women and girls were at a higher risk of being exiled, trafficked, or victims of intimate partner violence. In the East and Horn of Africa, there has been an increase in child marriages as a result of the elevating strain on family income, and an increased risk of sexual violence against women, as they travel longer distances, due to the drought, to collect water and firewood. The UNHCR expressed its concern as to the lack of funding in programmes to address gender-based violence. The agency further identified that in 2023, the funding needed would be around 340 million (USD) to fulfil gender-based violence prevention and response programs. 


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