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International Legal News

Weekly update: 8 October to 21 October 2019

The following media round-up of international legal and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period 8 October to 21 October 2019.

The Guernica Group will provide weekly media updates from the International Criminal Court, European Court of Human Rights, United Nations, European Union and other sources. Should you wish to contribute or submit a media summary, opinion piece or blog, please send to Nenad Vucijak for consideration.

UN Refugee Agency: 11 October 2019

In a historic moment in the global fight against statelessness, more than 85 governments, civil society and international and regional organisations have pledged hundreds of new commitments to end statelessness, a major cause of human rights deprivations for millions of people worldwide. The sheer number of pledges was unprecedented for a single occasion.

Burkina Faso: 11 October 2019

Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Burkina Faso have fled insecurity and violence linked to armed groups in just the last three months. Central and northern regions of the country have seen 486,000 people become internally displaced, 267,000 since July.

Global: 11 October 2019

The world’s one billion young girls were celebrated on 11 October as an “unscripted and unstoppable” force for change, with this day in October being designated each year as the International Day of the Girl Child. Every day, girls under 18 are challenging stereotypes, breaking barriers and leading movements to tackle the issues that affect them and beyond; from eliminating child marriage to closing the education gap.

UAE: 16 October 2019

In an open letter to President Sheika Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, more than 100 organisations call for authorities in the UAE to immediately end the unlawful imprisonment of Ahmed Mansoor; who is serving an unjust 10- year prison term for his peaceful human rights work. The letter has been published ahead of his 50th birthday which falls on 22 October.

Belarus: 16 October 2019

Politically motivated trial against former prisoner of conscience starts behind closed doors as calls are made for the Belarusian authorities to uphold the rights of Dzmitry Paliyenka to a fair trial and ensure his hearing is open to the public. Paliyenka’s prosecution follows a well-documented history of being targeted and harassed by authorities for his activism.

European Court of Human Rights: 17 October 2019

In the case of Mushfig Mammadov and Others v Azerbaijan, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously held that there had been a violation of Article 9 (right to freedom of conscience, thought and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned the applicant’s refusal on religious grounds to serve in the army and highlighted an issue relating to the lack of legislation on civilian service as an alternative to military service in the country.

European Court of Human Rights: 17 October 2019

In the case of Lopez Ribalda and Others v Spain, the Court held that there had been no violation of the Convention. The applicants, 5 cashiers working for the supermarket chain M.S.A were dismissed n disciplinary grounds following proceedings in which covert video recordings, showing them stealing, were admitted in evidence. The court held that the domestic courts had not exceeded their power of discretion in finding the monitoring proportionate and legitimate.

United Nations: 17 October 2019

The latest elections to the Human Rights Council saw 14 new members elected, including Venezuela, Poland and Sudan. The newly elected countries will serve for three years and take up their seats after 31 December.

Colombia: 17 October 2019

Violence sows fear among women ahead of Colombia local elections. Seven candidates have been murdered and dozens more have been attacked or threatened in the lead up to the local and regional elections which are due to take place on 27 October 2019. This will make it the most violent electoral year since the country signed the 2016 peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Observers say that Colombian female candidates face even greater challenges than their male counterparts, and are systematically threatened with physical and sexual violence in an effort to deter them from running.

United States of America: 17 October 2019

US Supreme Court justices questioned whether a lower court sufficiently considered that a man convicted in the 2002 shooting spree in Washington DC was a minor at the time of the crimes when he was sentenced to a life in prison. Lee Boyd Malvo was 17 during the shootings in which he participated with an older accomplice. If Malvo prevails, he and other prison inmates in similar cases involving crimes committed by minors could receive new sentencing hearings to allow judges to consider whether their youth at the time of the offence merits leniency.

Poland: 18 October 2019

The Polish government is urged to scrap a bill that would amend the penal code to criminalize “anyone who promotes or approves the undertaking by a minor of sexual intercourse or other sexual activity”. In effect, sex educators, teachers, authors, and organisations providing information on reproductive health and sexuality could face a three-year prison sentence.

Egypt: 18 October 2019

Authorities in Egypt are urged by the UN human rights office, OHCHR, to immediately release scores of citizens who have been arrested in connection with recent anti-government demonstrations in several cities. Civil society groups report that more than 2,000 people were detained before, during and after the protests on 20 September, which prompted the UN High Commission for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to express concern about reports of lack of due process.

France: 18 October 2019

Unaccompanied migrant child whom child protection authorities failed to provide a living place for, are facing prosecution for illegal occupation after squatting in an unoccupied building owned by the Catholic Church.

Spain: 18 October 2019

In response to mobilisations and demonstrations occurring in Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia after Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced 12 Catalan political leaders and activists, Amnesty International calls urgently on all authorities to take every necessary measure to support peaceful assembly and allow all people to freely and safely express their beliefs.

Lebanon: 19 October 2019

Authorities urged to immediately end the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters following the actions used to disperse an overwhelmingly peaceful protest in downtown Beirut including firing huge amounts of tear gas into crowds and chasing protesters down streets at gunpoint before beating them.

Bosnia: 19 October 2019

Overa year after Human Rights Watch first criticised Bosnia’s failure to protect the basic rights of migrants and asylum seekers, the International Organisation for Migration is warning of a fast-developing humanitarian emergency in the Vučjak tent camp which currently houses more than 1,7000 people living without running water, electricity or medical care.

Japan: 19 October 2019

Human Rights Watch states that the Japanese government should publicly hold Myanmar to account for military atrocities committed against Rohingya and other ethnic minorities. The Japanese government should discourage investment that would benefit the military or be at the expense of minority groups in Myanmar.

Africa: 21 October 2019

African rights bodies are frustrated at every turn by the lack of cooperation and support from African Union member states who desperately try to undermine their independence and autonomy according to a new report published by Amnesty International. The report found that the continent’s rights bodies are working in harsh conditions whereby their decisions are blatantly ignored and their pleas for proper funding and human resources persistently fall on deaf ears.

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