Weekly News Recap (17-23 April 2023)

© Photo by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid via Flickr




ECtHR: The Detention of an Algerian National in Belgium Pending His Removal to Algeria Did Not Breach the European Convention

On 18 April 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held, unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 5 § 1 (f) and § 4 (right to liberty and security/right to a speedy review of the lawfulness of detention) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) in a case concerning the detention of an Algerian national for 31 months in a closed centre for aliens pending his removal from Belgium on grounds of a risk to public order and national security. The Court noted that the domestic authorities had taken the view that the applicant’s detention was justified for reasons relating mainly to his dangerousness and to the protection of public order and national security. Those considerations had been reinforced by the applicant’s conviction in April 2018 for membership of a terrorist group. The Court further noted that the Belgian courts had conducted a sufficient review of the detention measure.


ICC: Court Rejected Philippine Government’s Appeal to Halt Drug War Investigation

On 18 April 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) denied an appeal made by the government of Philippines to stop the tribunal’s investigation into its controversial war on drugs. Philippines was accused of committing crimes against humanity under the procedures which were performed under the tag of its war on drugs. The office of the public counsel for the victims in the international criminal court stated that any reversal to resuming the probe into killings would “jeopardise the victim’s right to truth and justice”. The Principal counsel Paolina Massida said that Philippines had failed to demonstrate any error in the decision making of the pre-trial chamber in resuming the probe. Meanwhile, Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos Jr had announced that the government won’t cooperate with the probe by ICC.

http://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2023/4/20/ICC-public-counsel-for-victims-dism iss-Philippines-appeal-drug-war-investigation.html


USA: Former Venezuelan National Treasurer Sentenced to 15 years in Prison on Corruption Charges

On 19 April 2023, a federal judge in Miami sentenced Claudia Diaz and her husband Adrian Velasques to 15 years in prison under charges of corruption. Claudia Diaz, an ex-nurse to former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was named by him as national treasurer of Venezuela from 2011 until his death in 2013. Claudia and her husband are facing charges of laundering $136 million as bribe from Venezuelan media Mogul who owns the Globovision channel. Claudia is the latest among the several Venezuelan top-officials charged with corruption by the US courts.  

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-65323570 https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/former-venezuelan-national-treasurer-and-her-husband-sentenced-money-laundering-and


ECtHR: Court Declared the Inter-State Case of Georgia v. Russia as Admissible

On 20 April 2023, the European court of human rights declared the admissibility of the interstate case of Georgia v. Russia. The decision was taken following Georgia’s application against Russia on alleged deterioration of the human rights situation in its administrative boundary between government controlled territory and the Russian occupied territories. The case was lodged by the Georgian government on 22nd August 2018 and was the 4th case against the Russian government. The court in its ruling stated that it had the jurisdiction to deal with the case as the incidents took place before Russia’s exit from the European convention in September 2022.



https://www.ejiltalk.org/the-european-courts-admissibility-decision-in-ukraine-and-th e-netherlands-v-russia-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-part-i/

CJEU: Court Halved the Daily Fine Imposed on Poland in a Dispute Over Judicial Reforms

On 21 April 2023, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) halved the 1 million Euro fine imposed on Poland over its disputed judicial reforms. In 2021, CJEU issued a ruling that stated Poland’s system for disciplining judges are incompatible with the bloc’s laws subjecting Warsaw to a daily fine of 1 million Euros. Poland has now dissolved the chamber and replaced it with a new body. The Vice-President of CJEU in a statement issued on Friday stated that Poland has implemented the required reforms to “a large extent”. The reduced daily fine of 50000 Euros come into effect from Friday.


https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/eus-top-court-halves-daily-fine-poland-judiciar y-dispute-2023-04-21/

USA: Supreme Court Blocked the Lower Court’s Ruling that Limited Access to Abortion Pill

On 21 April 2023, the United States Supreme Court blocked all new restrictions set by a lower court on the use of Mifepristone which is a widely used abortion pill. Earlier in April, a federal court in Texas issued a judgement which suspended Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 23-year-old authorisation to drug Mifepristone. The Justice department and the pill’s manufacturer Dance Laboratories have issued an emergency request to the Supreme Court to put a stay to the lower court’s decisions. The stay came as a significant win to the Biden Administration and the pro-abortion groups.



South Africa: Supreme Court Upheld the Ruling that Bans the Public Display of Old Apartheid-Era Flags

On 21 April 2023, South Africa’s Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling which bans any public display of the old apartheid era flag. The court ruled that any “gratuitous” public display of the flag would be considered as hate speech and racial discrimination. The court in its ruling mentioned that any public display of the flag would convey a destructive message. The abolished flag used to be South Africa’s national flag from 1928 until the setting up of a democratic government in 1994.  The equality court first issued a ban against the flag in 2019, which was upheld by the Supreme court on Friday. AfriForum, a group which represents the interest of white Africans of South Africa alleged infringement to right to freedom of expression. At the same time the court haven’t mentioned if the use of the flag is allowed in the privacy of home.

https://www.thederrick.com/ap/world/court-upholds-ban-on-south-africas-apartheid-er a-flag/article_ff353266-db1e-5920-a2ef-ae0f5ce586b1.html



UN: Catastrophic Hunger Levels in The Sahel Region to Hit Record Highs

On 18 April 2023, the UN announced the number of people at risk in the Sahel of experiencing “catastrophic levels of hunger”, one stop away from famine, is set to reach a record high of 45 000 people. This number is four times higher than five years ago. The area has been extremely affected by conflict, Covid-19 and climate shocks, which have increased vulnerability and displacement in the region, as well as increased food prices and, subsequently, levels of malnutrition and hunger. The majority of these people are in Mali and Burkina Faso which are both countries experiencing a high level of violent unrest which has impacted efforts to deliver humanitarian aid. The UN also predicted the number of people who do not have access to safe and nutritious food is set to increase to 48 million from June to August this year. The Director of the World Food Programme (“WFP”) stated “there is a crucial need for massive investments” and a need to prioritise “local and long-term solutions to food production” to reverse this forecast.


Syria: Saudi Foreign Minister Visits Syrian President in Damascus

On 18 April 2023, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan (“bin Farhan”) visited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (“al-Assad”) in Damascus, Syria, marking a significant step towards ending Syria’s regional isolation. Bin Farhan’s visit was the first visit of a Saudi Arabian diplomat since the start of the civil war and comes at a time of wider rapprochement in the region. According to Saudi state media, the meeting discussed a political solution to Syria’s conflict that would maintain its Arab identity and return it to “its Arab surroundings”. Since the start of the civil war in 2011, Saudi Arabia, along with most of the region, cut ties with al-Assad following his deadly crackdown on protestors which escalated into a decade long civil war. Following this, Syria’s membership in the Arab League was suspended and several Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, backed rebel groups trying to remove al-Assad from power. However, with the backing of Iran and Russia, al-Assad’s forces regained control over most of Syria, and Saudi Arabia recently announced that isolating al-Assad was not working. On 14 April 2023, Gulf Arab foreign ministers and their counterparts from Egypt, Jordan and Iraq discussed Syria’s return to the Arab League; however, no agreement was reached and other countries, such as Qatar, remain opposed to readmittance in the absence of a political solution to the conflict. 


Sudan: Fighting Continues in Sudan as Ceasefire Fails 

On 18 April 2023, a ceasefire in Sudan failed, leading to a continuation of violence which has killed more than 270 people and injured 2 600. The fighting started on 15 April 2023 between the Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (“RSF”) after months of growing tensions between the two sides over a power sharing arrangement in an attempted transition to democracy after a military coup. Both sides agreed to a ceasefire on 18 April 2023, for 24 hours, however, within 15 minutes fighting broke out again with gunfire and the fighting continued. The RSF accused the Sudanese armed forces of breaking the agreement, and earlier that day the Sudanese armed forces accused the RSF of invading hospitals and civilian homes. Water and electricity cuts have been reported and the violence has made it impossible for the wounded to get to hospital. One-third of Sudan’s population of 46 million is acutely food-insecure and the violence has forced the UN to halt the majority of its operations. 


Afghanistan: UN Secretary General to Convene International Meeting on Afghanistan in Doha for Peace Solutions

On 19 April 2023, a UN spokesman announced that UN secretary general Antonio Guterres will convene an international meeting on Afghanistan in May 2023 in Doha, Qatar to discuss a “durable way forward” for the country. The meeting will be made up of special envoys on Afghanistan from various countries; however, it was unclear whether representatives from the Taliban would attend. The announcement of the meeting followed a statement by UN deputy secretary general Amina Mohamed (“Mohamed”) on 17 April 2023, where she discussed the “baby steps” which could lead to international recognition for the Taliban. Mohamed affirmed the need for an international approach which “includes finding common ground on the longer-term vision for the country”, including assurances that “women have their rightful place in Afghan society”. On 4 April 2023, the Taliban banned women from working at UN offices across the country, triggering international criticism. 


Ukraine: Cash Assistance Reaches 2 Million Ukrainians in First Three Months of 2023

On 19 April 2023, Stéphane Dujarric, UN Spokesperson, highlighted that nearly two million Ukrainians have been raced with multi-purpose cash assistance by UN humanitarians. He also stated that in 2022, six million people had been provided with cash assistance and this year more than $200 million has been transferred in order to provide assistance to Ukrainians, so that they can meet their basic needs. He further added that the target was to provide cash assistance to 4.4 million people, transferring close to $1 billion in total. Overall, humanitarians are trying to provide assistance to more than 11 million out of the 18 million who are in need of the same. He also highlighted that $ 3.9 billion was still needed for responding to the situation, and only $900 million has been received as of yet, urging the international community to provide support to the humanitarian assistance response in the country. 


DRC: Fragile DRC Army – M23 Movement Ceasefire Holds Amid Improving DRC – Rwanda Relations

On 19 April 2023, Huan Xia, UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes while briefing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) highlighted that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hundreds of civilians have been killed by armed groups and “continue to sow terror” in the region.  The country has been affected by the violence that emerged from operations of multiple armed groups in the region and includes the March 23 force (M23), which has been fighting a major campaign against Government troops. The UN Envoy also highlighted that a “fragile lull” has also been witnessed in the eastern DRC, while also pointing out that there seems to be a fragile ceasefire holding between the DRC army and March 23 Movement (M23). He further urged that it was necessary to fully implement the commitments that had been made under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for DRC. He also emphasised that a “negotiated political solution” was also being called for and there still remained a risk of renewed fighting in the region. 


Sudan: Ongoing Hostilities in Region Leaves Millions of Children Affected

On 20 April, 2023 the Catherine Russell, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director highlighted that nine children were reportedly killed in the ongoing fighting in Sudan, with more than 50 children having been injured in the hostilities which continue in Khartoum, the Darfurs and North Kordofan. She also highlighted that the hostilities in the region have also had an impact upon the life-saving care that is being provided for an estimated 50 000 severely acutely malnourished children. She echoed Secretary-General’s appeal for force to immediately cease hostilities and called upon parties to the conflict to respect their international obligations in order to protect children from harm. 


Yemen: Fatal Crowd Crush Claims 85 Lives, Leaves Over 100 Injured in the Region

On 20 April 2023, Amnesty International responded to the deadly stampede that killed 85 people while causing injuries to over 300 at a Ramadan charity event in the old city of Sana’a.  Grazia Careccia, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa expressing his concerns over the event urged that the Houthi de facto authorities, must make “prompt, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent” investigation into the incident. According to witnesses, the stampede began when people rushed in panic towards the school after hearing gunfire and an electrical explosion. Apparently, armed Houthis had fired into the air in an attempt at crowd control, which struck an electrical wire causing an explosion. The Houthis have stated that they would pay about $ 2000 in compensation to each family who has a lost a relative in the incident while providing $ 400 as compensation to people who have been injured.



UNHCR: Thousands Flee to Chad for Safety as Ceasefire Fails and Intensifies Violence in Sudan

On 20 April 2023, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expressed concern over the intensifying violence and insecurity in Sudan as first refugees that fled from the violence have found safety in Chad. According to the UNHCR, an estimated 10 000 to 20 000 people have fled the conflict in Darfur region of Sudan in order to seek refuge in the neighbouring country Chad. The UNHCR is coordinating with the Government of Chad in order to provide support, assistance and assess the needs of the refugees. Over 400 000 refugees from Sudan are already being hosted in Eastern Chad, which has put considerable strain upon the public services and resources of the country. Raouf Mazou, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations reiterated his call for putting an end to the conflict in order to prevent further loss of lives and also protecting civilians, which includes refugees and displaced persons. 


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