Weekly News Recap (12-18 December 2022)

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Iran: Public Execution Carried Out Against Second Protester with Fear of More

On 12 December 2022, Iran publicly executed a second man, who was arrested during the country’s ongoing protests. The judiciary announced that Majidreza Rahnavard, who was convicted of killing two members of the security forces, was executed.  In the released images, Rahnavard is shown hanging from a crane with security forces cordoning off the area. Similar to the case of Shekari, the first protester executed by Iran, Rahnavard’s arrest, trial and execution took place in the span of one month. After the execution, Gholamali Sadeghi, the judiciary chief of the northeastern Razavi Khorasan province, thanked the police, security and judicial officials for carrying out the sentence.  Foreign-based human rights organisations have said that more than 450 people have been killed during the protest, and ‘warn that more people arrested in connection with the protest could be executed soon.’


Bahamas: Cryptocurrency Founder, FTX Arrest after US Filed Criminal Charges

On 13 December 2022, Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, has been arrested in the Bahamas after the United States filed criminal charges against him. The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York confirmed the arrest of Bankman-Fried but has declined to comment on the nature of the charges. He was arrested based on a sealed indictment, although the US Securities and Exchange Commission said they separately authorised charges related to Bankman-Fried’s alleged violations of securities law. Bankman-Fried, a 30-year-old, was once worth an estimated $26.5bn. His crypto-exchange company, FTX was founded in 2019, and based in the Bahamas. In. November, FTX filed for bankruptcy protection after the collapse of an acquisition deal with Binance. FTX has been accused of using customer funds to prop up Alameda, a trading company controlled by Bankman-Fried. Mr Bankman-Fried “has admitted to making a ‘lot of mistakes’ in his handling of the collapse but [has] denied any intention to commit fraud.”


ECtHR: Court Found Violation of Prohibition of Discrimination in Schools in North Macedonia

On 13 December 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held in the case of Elmazova and Others v. North Macedonia, that Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) and Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education) were violated in regard to segregation between pupils of Roma and Macedonian ethnicity. The case concerns two applicants, who alleged segregation in primary school during the 2018-2019 academic year. The applicants were denied access to the neighbouring school of their choice or were transferred. The court found that, although there may not have been any discriminatory intent on the part of the State, the de facto situation – with primary school pupils of Roma ethnicity filtered in different schools and classes from ethnic Macedonians, had ‘no objective justification and […] had amounted to educational segregation.’ 


Turkey: Istanbul’s Mayor Sentence to Two Years and Seven Months in Jail

On 15 December 2022, Istanbul’s Mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison, along with receiving a ban on participating in political activities. Mr. Imamoglu is accused of insulting 11 members of Turkey’s High Election Board, YSK when calling the board ‘idiots.’ Imamoglu’s comments were directed at the ‘board’s decision to annul and re-run a March 2019 local election in Istanbul’ in which Imamoglu had won both the initial election and the re-run. The international community has condemned the jail sentence and political ban, as a ‘blow to Turkish democracy.’ Freedom House, a human rights watchdog said, ‘this decision fundamentally undermines the will of Turkish voters and is a clear violation of democratic principles.’ Imamoglu, who will appeal the decision, has received support from political party leaders, unions, and mayors of other cities, as well as from the international community. On Wednesday, 14 December, a protest outside the Istanbul Municipality building was attended by tens of thousands of people.



ICC:  Appeals Chambers Confirms Ongwen’s Conviction and Sentence

On 15 December 2022, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) delivered its judgment confirming the decision of Trial Chamber IX regarding Dominic Ongwen’s guilt and sentence. Mr Ongwen was found guilty of 61 crimes comprising of crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed in Northern Uganda between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2005. He was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment. The Appeals Chamber addressed and rejected all 90 grounds of appeal raised by the Defence including allegations regarding violations of Mr Ongwen’s right to a fair trial and other human rights. The Appeals Chamber confirmed the cumulative convictions entered by the Trial Chamber, stating that each provision had a ‘materially distinct’ element.


ECtHR: Court Held Obscene Slogan Did Not Justify the Restriction on Freedom of Expression

On 15 December 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held in the case Peradze and Others v. Georgia, that there had been a violation of Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association), and Article 10 (freedom of expression). The case concerned the applicants’ arrest and conviction for displaying an obscene banner against Panorama Tbilisi, an urban development project. The applicants took part in a demonstration against Panorama Tbilisi, in 2015, and were arrested and fined based on a legal provision that explicitly prohibits the use of profanities in public places. The Court found that the applicants’ conduct had been ‘peaceful and passive, and they had not behaved in a disruptive manner during the demonstration.’ Furthermore, the Court held that the slogan had not been used to ‘insult or […] denigrate anyone in particular.’ As a result, the Court held that the controversial form of the banner did not justify the restriction on speech.


Palestine: Family of Deceased Activist Submit Request to the ICC

On 15 December 2022, the family of a Palestinian activist, Nizar Banat, who died while in custody, submitted their case to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Banat was a leading critic of the Palestinian Authority, and died in June 2021, after being dragged from his home in the occupied West Bank by security forces. A post-mortem report showed, ‘he had been beaten on the head, chest, neck, legs and hands, with less than an hour elapsing between his arrest and his death.’ The case accuses seven Palestinian officials of being responsible for Banat’s death. While any person or group can lodge a complaint to the ICC prosecutor, the Court is under no obligation to take on the matter. This is the first time a Palestinian has brought a complaint before the ICC against another Palestinian. This comes at the heels of the release of 14 members of the Palestinian security forces on bail, pending their military trial in the West Bank over Banat’s death. Banat’s brother, Ghassan stated that this decision to release the defendant on bail demonstrates that the ‘Palestinian Authority […] have more authority than the court […] that is why we have decided to move on to the international arena.’


Albania: Iranian Citizen Sentenced for Participating in Terrorist Activities

On 15 December 2022, Bijan Pooladrag was sentenced to ‘five years in jail for offering services to designated terrorist organisations and 10 years for participating in a terrorist organisation.’ Mr. Pooladrag is an Iranian citizen who was arrested in 2020 on suspicion of being an Iranian agent monitoring the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), an exiled group operating out of Albania. MEK, which was founded in the 1970s, is a left-wing organisation opposed to the current regime in Iran and has been designated as a terrorist organisation. The defendant will serve a total of 10 years in prison, in line with Albanian judicial practices.


KSC: Kosovo Specialist Chamber’s Trial Judgment in the Mustafa Case

On 16 December 2022, Trial Panel I found Salih Mustafa guilty of the war crimes of arbitrary detention, torture and murder. He was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Mr. Mustafa was acquitted on the charges of cruel treatment. The Court emphasised that the charges in the case were related, ‘solely to the individual criminal responsibility of Mr. Mustafa.’ The crimes to which Mr. Mustafa was found guilty took place in April 1999 at a compound in the village of Zllash/Zlaš, Kosovo. Mr. Mustafa was the commander of a BIA Guerrilla unit in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The Court held that Mr. Mustafa, was present on several occasions at the detention compound, and therefore ‘knew of their detention and the conditions thereof.’ The Court also made note that a Reparation Order will be issued in ‘due course.’



UNICEF: 11 000 Children Injured or Killed in the Yemen War

On 11 December 2022, United Nations Children’s Fund (“UNICEF”) reported that approximately 11 000 children have been killed or injured in the war in Yemen, with an average of four children per day since the fighting escalated in 2015. The peace agreement between the government and the rebels was initially signed in April 2022 and led to a reduction of violence; however, a failure to renew it on 2 October 2022 has led to an increase in fighting again. UNICEF reported that between the end of the truce (in October) and 30 November, 62 children had been killed or injured. Yemen remains one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with three-quarters of the population (23.4 million) requiring protection, more than half of which are children with 2.2 million acutely malnourished. The situation means that Yemen is also facing a severe education crisis with further long-term consequences for children.


Brazil: Bolsonaro Supporters Invade Police Headquarters and Protest Lula’s Election Certification

On 12 December 2022, supporters of former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro (“Bolsonaro”) attempted to invade the police headquarters in the capital Brasilia. Earlier on 12 December, the federal court certified the 30 October election outcome for the new President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a victory that Bolsanaro contested and made baseless claims that the elections were subject to fraud. On the same day, authorities arrested a Bolsonaro supporter for allegedly organising violent and “anti-democratic” acts, including protests across Brasilia and enlisting people to “commit crimes.” In response to these two events, hundreds of Bolsonaro supporters gathered outside the presidential palace on 12 December 2022, calling for “military intervention” and others blocked highways and set buses and cars on fire. Police attempted to disperse the crowds with tear gas and stun grenades.


UN: Countries Must Support Ukraine’s Recovery to Prevent Worsening Humanitarian Crisis  

On 13 December 2022, the United Nations (UN) chief Antonio Guterres (Guterres) stated that the war in Ukraine is a “relentless humanitarian nightmare” and warned that the death and destruction will take years to overcome. Guterres addressed a one-day international summit attended by leaders from approximately 50 nations and they reached an agreement to deliver $1 billion (USD) in financing to help repair the Ukrainian energy grid, water systems and health facilities damaged by Russian missile attacks. Guterres announced that the “destruction across the country requires strong support from the international community” as around 10 million consumers are without electricity and millions are cut off from water and heat as well. In addition to this, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed 715 attacks on medical facilities and workers since the beginning of the invasion on 24 February 2022. The UN urged investment by international partners into Ukraine’s recovery “to prevent the current crisis from cascading into poverty, hunger and destitution.” 


Somalia: Number of Individuals Facing Malnourishment to Increase in 2023 

On 13 December 2022, the Integration Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) stated that due to an anticipated scale-down in humanitarian assistance, approximately 8.3 million people across Somalia are expected to face crisis levels of hunger (IPC Level 3) between April and June 2023. The high levels of food insecurity are caused by five consecutive seasons of poor rainfall and exceptionally high food prices which are heightened by conflict and disease outbreaks in the region. In addition to this, an increasing number of people are expected to face famine and catastrophe levels (IPC Level 5) malnutrition across multiple areas of Somalia in 2023. The IPC reported that the total estimated number of children to face acute malnutrition (all IPC levels) by July 2023 is 1.8 million, including 513 550 who are likely to be severely malnourished. Funding for humanitarian food assistance is currently sufficient for over 5.8 million people per month until March 2023. However, the levels of acute food insecurity remain high and will worsen if this level of assistance is not sustained after March 2023. 



Peru: Nationwide State of Emergency Declared in Violent Protests That Have Left 8 Dead

On 14 December 2022, the Peruvian government declared a nationwide state of emergency in response to violent protests in several regions across Peru that have killed eight. On 7 December 2022, protests broke out after former President Pedro Castillo (“Castillo”) was voted out of government and arrested after he sought to dissolve Congress ahead of an impeachment vote. On 16 December 2022, a judge in Peru sentenced Castillo to 18 months of imprisonment on charges of rebellion and conspiracy which he denies. In an attempt to quell public anger, new President Dina Boluarte (“Boluarte”) pledged to bring forward the general elections two years, to April 2024. However, protests have continued across the country, including hundreds of people protesting at the legislative palace in Lima. A nationwide state of emergency suspends civilians’ freedom of movement and allows armed forces to take more control if needed. Human rights organisation Amnesty International urged Peruvian forces to desist from “excessive force against demonstrations and guarantee the right to peaceful protest.” 


Iran: ECOSOC Adopts Resolution to Remove the Country from UN Commission on the Status of Women

On 14 December 2022, a resolution was adopted by the 54-member UN Economic and Social Council to remove Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) for the remaining four-year term, which ends in 2026. The resolution was introduced by the United States which received 29 votes in favour and eight against, with 16 abstentions. The resolution expressed grave concerns over the continuous suppression of the human rights of women and girls in Iran, in particular, the “use of excessive force” by the Iranian government. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated that Iran’s membership to the CSW was an “ugly stain” to the credibility of the Commission. She further called upon the commission to promote gender equality and empower women. The resolution was “categorically rejected and strongly condemned” by Iran. 


South Sudan: Amid Surge in Violence in the Upper Nile State, Civilians Continue to be Attacked

On 14 December 2022, Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged that the perpetrators responsible for the deadly violence in South Sudan’s Upper Nile Region should be brought to justice. He expressed his grave concern over the attacks that had been committed against civilians and urged the authorities to act promptly to put an end to the continuing violence. In the past four months, 166 civilians have been killed with 237 having been injured as clashes between armed groups and rival community-based militias have further intensified. The UN High Commissioner further urged that the Government of South Sudan should conduct a “prompt, thorough and impartial investigation” into the ongoing violence and hold persons responsible for the same in accordance with international law. He further called upon parties to the conflict to “lay down their arms and engage in dialogue.” He further highlighted that the violence and conflict risked spreading beyond the region and there was an urgent need for authorities to de-escalate the violence. 


Nicaragua: With Thousands of Civil Society Organisations Shutdown, Arbitrary Detention of People Rises to 225 

On 15 December 2022, Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, while addressing the UN Human Rights Council, highlighted that in Nicaragua the number of people who had been arbitrarily detained had risen to 225 from 195 since September. Michelle Bachelet further underscored that these persons, which included 26 women and 199 men, had been detained in inhumane conditions with them continuing to suffer. According to Mr Türk, more than 3 000 national and international non-governmental organisations had been shut down since September. He urged that to address the situation in the country, there was a need for continuous engagement on a national, international and regional level. He further urged that all the persons who have been detained arbitrarily should be promptly released, emphasising the need for respecting the freedoms of expression, association and assembly. 


Amnesty International: New Report Highlights Promotion of ‘Traditional Values’ Undermining Protection Against Domestic Violence in Central Asia and Eastern Europe

On 15 December 2022, a new report by Amnesty International titled Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Protect Women from Violence in Crises and Beyond, highlighted the institutional, structural, cultural and social challenges faced by survivors of domestic violence. The report also highlights the inadequacy of safeguards against such violence because of intensifying traditional, patriarchal and openly misogynistic political rhetoric. Natalia Nozadze, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Researcher, highlighted that the organisation has also documented the impact COVID-19 Pandemic has had on the safeguards against domestic violence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She also highlighted that promotion of additional values further undermined the protections and rights of survivors in the region. She urged for the need to criminalise domestic violence. Furthermore, according to recent data from World Health Organisation (WHO), 20 % of women in Eastern Europe and 18 % of women in Central Asia have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. 


OHCHR: UN Experts Call Upon De-Facto Authorities in Afghanistan to End Public Floggings and Executions

On 16 December 2022, UN experts expressed their grave concern over public execution and flogging that has resumed by the de-facto authorities in Afghanistan. They urged the de-facto authorities to immediately stop all forms of cruel and degrading types of punishment. They issued a statement which highlighted the flogging of 100 individuals carried out by the authorities against men and women. They further stated that between 20 and 100 lashes had been given for crimes which included theft, ‘illegitimate’ relationships or violation of social behaviour codes. They called upon the Taliban to establish a moratorium on the death penalty, public flogging and other physical punishments which amounted to torture or other kinds of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, highlighting that such acts violated said principles. 


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