Weekly News Recap (3-9 April 2023)

© Photo by NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization via Flickr




KSC: Trial Against Thaçi and Others Set to Commence

On 2 April 2023, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) announced that the case against Mr Hashim Thaçi and others will commence on Monday, the 3rd. Opening statements are scheduled to begin this week, with hearings available in all three languages of the court, Albanian, Serbian and English. Each of the accused is charged based on individual criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity and war crimes in regard to the acts they committed, from March 1998 through September. The indictment alleges that each of the accused is responsible for the crimes committed during the non-international armed conflict in Kosovo and that they participated in widespread and systematic attacks against those who opposed the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). “The Trial Panel has indicated that the presentation of evidence in the trial… will begin on 11 April 2023.”


ECtHR: German Authorities Did Not Violate Convention by Refusing to Record a Transgender Parent as the Mother on a Birth Certificate

On 4 April 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that there had been no violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning a transgender parent (A.H.). The case concerned three applicants including A.H., who complained that the civil registration authorities had refused to record A.H. in the register of births as the mother of the third applicant (L.D.H). The Court found that “the former gender and former forename of a transgender parent had to be indicated not only where the birth had taken place before the recognition of the parent’s gender change had become final but also where, as in the present case, the child had been conceived or born after the gender reclassification.” The Court took into account the fact that A.H.’s identity as a parent of L.D.H had not been called into question, as A.H. was recorded as the father.


Mexico: Five Arrested for Migrant Fire Including Immigration Officers

On 5 April 2023, a judge ordered three Mexican immigration officers, a private security guard, and a Venezuelan migrant be held for their alleged connection with a fire at an immigration detention centre that killed 40 migrants and refugees. The four responsible for security (the immigration officers and private security guard) will be held on charges of homicide by omission and causing injuries, while the migrant who allegedly set the fire will face charges of homicide and causing injuries. A video from a security camera inside the facility showed the guards walking away when the fire started, not making any attempt to release the migrants and refugees. It is not clear yet whether those guards had keys to the cell doors.


US: Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Transgender Athlete

On 6 April 2023, the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of a 12-year-old transgender girl in West Virginia to continue to compete in girls’ sports events while a lawsuit over the state ban continues. The court in a majority decision, refused to overturn an appeals court order which made it possible for the girl to continue playing on her school’s track and cross-country team, while she appeals a lower court ruling that upheld the law. West Virginia is among 20 states that have enacted bans against transgender athletes from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.


CJEU: Germany and France Join Proceedings Against Hungary’s Anti-LGBT Law

On 6 April 2023, Germany and France are joining the EU Commission’s infringement proceedings against Hungary over its anti-LGBT law. The European Commission referred Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in mid-2022 over its law banning the use of materials seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change in schools. The commission said the law violates the EU’s internal market rules, the fundamental rights of individuals and EU values. Currently, 14 EU member states have now joined the proceedings.


KSC: Trial Panel I Issued Reparation Order in the Case of Mustafa for 207 000 Euros

On 6 April 2023, the Trial Panel I issued a reparations order against Salih Mustafa for 207 000 euros for the harm he inflicted on the victims and their families. Mr Mustafa was found guilty on 16 December 2022 of the war crimes of arbitrary detention, torture and murder. He was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Mr Mustafa is solely responsible for the compensation; however, he does not currently have the means to fully comply with the order. As such the Panel indicated that Kosovo’s current Crime Victim Compensation Program could be an alternative method to execute the Reparations Order.


DRC: Congo Military Court Sentenced Six Men to Life in Prison for the Death of Italian Ambassador

On 7 April 2023, a military court in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sentenced six men to life in prison over the death of the Italian ambassador, his bodyguard and driver. Envoy Luca Attanasio, Vittorio Lacovacci (bodyguard) and their Congolese driver Mustapha Milambo were killed in February during a botched kidnapping. Six armed men had intercepted the two-car convoy, killed Milambo and led the six passengers away. Eastern Congo has faced decades of violence due to rival militias fighting government troops and each other for control over land and resources with kidnappings and attacks on aid conveys on the rise.


France: Prosecutors Seek to Charge 14 People Over the Beheading of a Teacher

On 7 April 2023, French prosecutors stated that they are seeking to try 14 people over the beheading of a teacher in 2020 by an Islamic extremist. Samuel Paty was beheaded by 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov (who was killed by the police at the scene) after he showed pictures of the Prophet Mohammed to his pupils. Prosecutors believe that the friends of Anzorov, named Azim E. and Naim B. accompanied Anzorov to buy a knife, and Naim B. travelled with him to the school. The national terror crime prosecutor’s office also recommended charges against six other adults and six children for their alleged link to the killing.



UN: Impunity Driving Extreme Human Rights Violations in South Sudan

On 3 April 2023, a report by the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan detailed how fighting impunity is necessary to end violence and horrendous human rights violations and abuses in South Sudan. The report names individuals warranting criminal investigation and prosecution for their roles as perpetrators of serious crimes, including extrajudicial killings, rapes, sexual slavery and attacks against civilians. South Sudan has suffered from unrest for almost a decade with the UN monitoring the human rights situation since 2016. The independent UN Commission found that although the Government of South Sudan has introduced special committees to investigate these widespread crimes, it has failed in its duty to protect civilians, with not one investigation leading to any form of accountability. The report identifies Unity State Governor Joseph Monytuil, Lieutenant General Thoi Chany Reaat of South Sudan People’s Defence Forces, and the Commissioner in Koch County, Gordon Koang, as among the persons responsible for widespread attacks and warranting criminal investigation. 


UN: One Million People Disappeared in Iraq in the Last Five Decades

On 4 April 2023, UN independent human rights experts called for an investigation into the one million people who have disappeared in Iraq over the past five decades. The appeal comes after experts visited Iraq in November 2022, and their report details five “waves of disappearance” in the country. These include from 1968-2003, during the Ba’ath era that was dominated by Saddam Hussein, and up to the anti-Government protests from 2018 to 2020. The report detailed meetings held with victims whose family members had disappeared, including those whose children had allegedly disappeared, particularly from the Yazidi minority community after their mothers were sexually abused by members of the extremist group Da’esh. In addition to this, it reported on the hundreds of families still searching for family members, who are believed to be in the camps in Turkiye, Syria or Iran, “where contact with the outside world is impossible”. The committee reported the disappearances to be “a problem of massive proportions” amongst the decades of political violence and conflict that has engulfed the country. 


SIPRI: Poorly Understood Ecological Issues Could Cause Future Security Issues 

On 4 April 2023, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (“SIPRI”) released a report outlining how poorly understood environmental trends will become security threats and trigger instability and insecurity. The first issue outlined is the accelerated spread of antimicrobial pathogens due to pollution and rising temperatures, which is already leading to untreatable ‘superbugs’, as well as the physiological and behavioural consequences of pollution. In addition to this, the institute highlighted the weakening of natural systems that support life and human well-being as an issue. The institute also outlined local and regional ecological ‘tipping points’, as well as the proliferation of harmful organisms and invasive species. The authors of the report stressed that existing uncertainty around these issues should expedite research to take action to prevent, mitigate and adapt to consequences. They added that we need to understand more about these issues as humans are “inextricably linked to the biosphere” and not taking action will have catastrophic consequences. 


Finland: Finland Joins NATO as Russia Condemns Expansion as a ‘Violation’ of International Norms

On 5 April 2023, Finland became the 31st member of the security alliance NATO resulting in doubling the length of alliance’s border with Russia. Finland shares an 832-mile border with Russia, and after the invasion of Ukraine, Finnish public opinion on joining NATO reached 80 per-cent. Under the rules of membership, if any country were invaded or attacked, all NATO members would support it, and Finland brings with it a well-equipped army with a wartime strength of 280 000. The Finnish admission brings new challenges to NATO to keep its border with Russia secure, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described NATO’s enlargement as a “violation of our security and our national interests”. Both Sweden and Finland requested to join NATO in May 2022. Sweden is not currently a member. 


Israel: Israeli Forces Attacked Worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque

On 5 April 2023, Israeli police attacked worshippers in Al-Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, using stun grenades and injuring at least 12 Palestinians. The raid continued overnight into the morning, where Israeli forces were seen pushing Palestinians out of the compound and preventing them from praying to allow Israelis in under police protection. At least 400 Palestinians were arrested on 5 April 2023 and remain in custody in East Jerusalem, according to Palestinian officials. On 6 April 2023, Israel launched a military attack on Gaza after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel’s enemies would “pay a price for any aggression” and that he was working to “maintain the status quo”. In addition to this, Israel reported that more than 30 rockets had been fired from Lebanon into Israel. Several Palestinian refugee camps and armed factions are in Lebanon, and Hezbollah controls most of the south. Israel blamed the Palestinian group Hamas in Lebanon for the incident, however, there has been no immediate claim for the incident. The Arab League condemned the attack on the Al-Aqsa mosque and called for an emergency meeting.



Kazakhstan: UN Torture Prevention Body Highlighted the Need for Strengthening Torture Prevention Mechanism in the Country

On 6 April 2023, UN Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) after its second visit to Kazakhstan highlighted that the country should take further actions in order to protect the detainees from torture and ill-treatment and also ensure that its national mechanism is playing an effective role in providing the same. During its visit, the SPT delegation visited prisons, investigation and temporary isolators as well as police and remand facilities. Jakob Czepek, head of the delegation, highlighted that torture prevention is an “ongoing process that requires determination and collaboration from all parties.” He also highlighted that the delegation called upon the country to prioritise rehabilitation and reintegration of people who have been detained as part of efforts to protect them from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Mr Czepek also stated that the delegation encouraged the Kazakh Government to take such steps which would further guarantee and enhance the preventive mandate of the Kazakhstan National Preventive Mechanism (NPM).


Burkina Faso: UN Human Rights High Commissioner Concerned Over Continuous Curbs on Media and Civic Space 

On 6 April 2023, Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed his grave concerns over the restriction imposed by the authorities in Burkina Faso on media and civic space in the aftermath of the suspension of media outlets and expulsion of two foreign correspondents from the country. The High Commissioner highlighted that the protection of independent voices was necessary in order to enable “scrutiny, facilitate accountability and to allow the space for the Burkinabé people to build a resilient, stable and inclusive society together. The activities of all civil society organisations have been suspended since the issuance of Communique No.3 on 30 September 2022, following which numerous steps have been taken by the authorities to restrict the work of the media. In December 2022, the Government suspended the transmission of Radio France International, and recently in the last week two journalists from the newspapers Le Monde and Libération were expelled following an interrogation by intelligence services. The High Commissioner highlighted that the journalist was expelled for reporting on a video that appeared to show the extrajudicial execution of children in the northern town of Ouahigouya. He urged that when such allegations are highlighted, it becomes the duty of authorities to make prompt and transparent investigations in order to establish the facts and ensure that those who are accountable are brought to justice. 


Afghanistan: Taliban’s Ban on Women Working for UN in Afghanistan to Severely Impact Humanitarian Aid and Assistance Efforts

On 6 April 2023, Dr Ramiz Alakbarov, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan highlighted that amid serious underfunding in the region, the decision of the Taliban to ban women from working for the United Nations inside Afghanistan would have devastating consequences on the delivery of humanitarian aid. He stated that it would “undermine humanitarian’s ability to support the population, especially the most vulnerable such as women and girls.” The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) stated that Special rapporteur Roza Otunbayeva was also engaging authorities at the highest level possible in order to reverse the latest Taliban decision. Human Rights Council experts called upon the Taliban to immediately lift the ban on women working with national and international NGOs and the United Nations. The humanitarian operation in Afghanistan has received the lowest funding among global aid efforts, with a mere 5% of the operation’s goals achieved thus far. The $4.6 billion humanitarian appeal which constitutes the largest aid operation would be providing assistance to 28.3 people in the region. 


Horn of Africa: Extreme Rains and Flash Flooding Destroyed Homes and Livestock in Rural Communities and Forced 30 000 Families from their Homes

On 6 April 2023, Save the Children, an organisation working in Somalia and Somaliland, reported that extreme rains and flash flooding that lashed Ethiopia and Somalia in the past week have destroyed homes and livestock. The countries are already reeling from extreme drought conditions and hunger crises. Insufficient nutritious food and illness-related nutrient malabsorption pose a high acute malnutrition risk to children under five and can be fatal or cause stunting and hinder long-term mental and physical growth. In the past three weeks, at least 50 people have been killed by the flash flood, with more than 30 000 families having been forced to flee from their homes and at least 10 000 livestock and 21 000 hectares of crops in both countries have been wiped out. 


Türkiye: Two Months After the Devastating Earthquakes, 2.5 Million Children Still in Urgent Need of Humanitarian Support

On 7 April 2023, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that 2.5 million children remain in need of humanitarian support in Türkiye, two months after the catastrophic earthquakes that hit the country along with northern Syria. Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF Representative in Türkiye highlighted that the future of millions of children has become uncertain due to the earthquakes, and providing more support to ensure their protection and needs remains crucial to the recovery. Nearly four million children enrolled in school have been affected by the earthquakes, which includes 350 000 refugee and migrant children. Approximately 1.5 million children have resumed their education in the earthquake-affected areas, with 250 000 relocating elsewhere in the country to continue their studies. UNICEF is closely working with partners to prevent family separation and support reunification which has reached more than 149 000 children and caregivers with psychosocial support. UNICEF in the region has appealed for an additional $138 million in order to continue its operation for providing support to children affected by the disaster and has called upon donors to ensure that assistance is provided through flexible funding and released in a timely manner. 


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