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International Legal News

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

Weekly update: 22 October - 28 October 2019

The following media round-up of international legal and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period 22 October to 28 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 it to Nenad Vucijak for consideration.

United Kingdom: 23 October 2019

New hate crime data for the United Kingdom shows a shocking number of incidents targeting LGBT people. The data released shows police recorded 14,491 crimes committed against people because of their sexual orientation in the period 2018-2019. Police recorded further 2,333 offenses against transgender people because of their gender identity.

European Court of Human Rights: 23 October 2019

The European Court of Human rights unanimously held that there had no violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in the case of J.D and A v the United Kingdom concerning the first applicant, but held that there had been a violation in respect of the second. The case concerned the applicants’ complaint that new rules on housing benefit in the social housing sector discriminated against them because of their particular situations; the first due to her disabled daughter and the second owing to her status as a victim of domestic violence.

Saudi Arabia: 23 October 2019

Following on from Saudi Arabia easing travel restrictions on women, observers say that loopholes still exist to allow male relatives to curtail their movements and, in the worst cases, leave them marooned in prison-like shelters. Whilst allowing travel documents, Saudi Arabia has done away with “taghayyub” a legal provision that means “absent” in Arabic and which has long been used to constrain women who leave home without permission.

Egypt: 24 October 2019

Members of the European Parliament took aim at Egypt’s brutal crackdown on human rights, calling out the European Union and its member states for their feeble response to the escalating crisis, and urging a “profound and comprehensive review” of the EU’s relationship with Egypt.

European Union: 24 October 2019

Economist, Ilham Tohti, a defender of China’s Uighur community who is serving a life sentence on separatism charges, has been awarded the European Union’s top human rights award. In a statement announcing Tohti as the recipient of the Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament described him as “a voice of moderation and reconciliation” who campaigned “tirelessly” to encourage “dialogue and understanding” between the Uighurs and other Chinese people, as well as for the implementation of regional autonomy laws in China. In awarding the prize, the body urged the Chinese government to release Tohti who was convicted in 2014 of fanning ethnic hatred, advocating violence and instigating terror through his classroom teaching.

Northern Ireland: 24 October 2019

Monday 24 October saw legalisation come into force that decriminalized abortion and legalised same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. According to the legislation, same-sex weddings will be able to take place as of February 2020 and the government has until April 2020 to put into place the types of abortion services that are available in other parts of the United Kingdom. Until that time, the government must cover the costs for women from Northern Ireland who travel to other parts of the United Kingdom for the services.

Chile: 24 October 2019

Amnesty International announces a research mission to document grave human rights violations and possible crimes under international law committed in the context of the state emergency and the curfew imposed in the country earlier in October. The Chilean government has reported that, so far, 18 people have died in the context of the demonstrations, the state of emergency and the curfew. According to the National Human Rights Institute, five of those fatalities were at the hands of the security forces, 2,600 people have been detained and 584 injured.

United States of America: 25 October 2019

The American Civil Liberties Union says immigration authorities in the United States separated more than 1,500 children from their parents at the Mexico border early in the Trump administration, bringing the total number of children separated since July 2017 to more than 5,400. At least 1,556 children separated were under the age of five.

China: 25 October 2019

Relatives of detained Uighurs urge international pressure on Beijing to release people being held in camps. According to the United Nations, at least one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are being held in detention. The number represents about 12.5% of the estimated eight million Uighurs in China.

Tanzania: 28 October 2019

Two reports released by Amnesty International detail the escalation of Tanzania’s repression of the media, human rights defenders and opposition parties since 2015. Both reports released found that President John Magufuli’s government has adopted or enforced a raft of repressive laws that stifle independent journalism and severely restrict the activities of non-governmental organisations and the political opposition.

United Kingdom: 28 October 2019

Calls for the 10-year deadline, on storage of frozen eggs, to be extended. Under UK law, only eggs stored for medical reasons and premature infertility can be kept for longer. The regulator says any change would be a matter for parliament but admitted that the time “might be right to look at a more appropriate storage limit”.

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