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International Legal News

Updated: Dec 16, 2019

Weekly update: 3 December to 9 December 2019

The following media round-up of international legal and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period 3 December to 9 December 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.

Greece: 4 December 2019

Women and girls face relentless insecurity in Greece’s overcrowded Moria “hotspot” for asylum seekers and migrants on Lesbos island. The Greek government is urged to take immediate action to ensure safe, humane conditions for women and girls in line with their international human rights obligations and standards for humanitarian emergencies. As of 2 December 2019, the Moria Reception and Identification Centre was holding nearly 16,800 people in a facility with a capacity for fewer than 3,000. Overcrowding has led authorities to erect shelters outside Moria’s fenced boundaries, first in the adjacent area called the Olive Grove and now in a second olive grove which has no water or sanitation facilities.


Gambia: 4 December 2019

A Gambian Truth Commission heard testimony that former President Yahya Jammed was responsible for numerous grave crimes during his 22 years in office; these included ordering the killing and torture of political opponents, the murder of 56 West African migrants and “witch hunts” in which hundreds of women were arbitrarily detained. Jammeh also allegedly participated in the rape and sexual assault of women brought to him. The hearings, which included the testimony of victims and former government officials, highlight the need for a criminal investigation of Jammeh, who has lived in exile in Equatorial Guinea since his departure from Gambia in January 2017.


European Court of Human Rights: 5 December 2019

In its decision in the case of Petithory Lanzmann v France (application no.23038/19) the ECHR has unanimously declared the application inadmissible. The case concerned the applicant’s request to have her deceased son’s sperm transferred to an establishment capable of arranging medically assisted reproduction or gestational surrogacy. Noting that the right for an individual to decide how and when to become a parent was a non-transferable right and that Article 8 did not guarantee a right to become a grandparent, the Court declared the application inadmissible.


European Court of Human Rights: 5 December 2019

In the case of J.M v France (application no.71670/14) the ECHR unanimously held that there had been a violation of the substantive and procedural aspects of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned the applicant’s complaints of inhuman and degrading treatment and disproportionate use of force by prison staff while he was in detention, and his allegation that the subsequent investigation had been ineffective and lacked independence. During the investigation, division investigation appeared to have applied different criteria in assessing the witness statements. The credibility of the wardens’ statements should have been carefully checked. The Court therefore found that the application had not had the benefit of an effective investigation.


Brazil: 5 December 2019

On December 5 2019, Brazil’s refugee agency (CONARE) granted asylum to 21,432 Venezuelans. The Brazilian government’s historic decision- considered a milestone in refugee protection by the UN Refugee Agency is a recognition of the rights and dignity that so many Venezuelans in Brazil have hoped for. CONARE should next make a prompt decision on the cases of 98,000 other Venezuelans whose requests for asylum are still pending.


Saudi Arabia: 6 December 2019

The Saudi government is urged to end the ill-treatment and arbitrary detention of human rights defender, Waleed Abu al-Khair. Credible reports have been received that Saudi Arabian prison authorities have arbitrarily placed human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Waleed Abu al-Khair in solitary confinement and under tightened security. Waleed has been on hunger strike since 29 November in protest against his ill-treatment. Waleed Abu Al-Khair was imprisoned under bogus terrorism-related charges for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and defending human rights.


Philippines: 9 December 2019

Philippine’s’ Commission on Human Rights has announced that 47 major fossil fuel and carbon-polluting companies could be held accountable for violating the rights of its citizens for the damaged caused by climate change. This is the first time ever that a human rights body has said that fossil fuel corporations can be found legally responsible for human rights harms linked to climate change. This announcement opens the door for further litigation, and even criminal investigations, that could see fossil fuel companies and other major polluters either forced to pay damages, or have their officials sent to jail for harms linked to climate change.


Global: 9 December 2019

Human Rights Watch has arranged for 17 landmarks across the globe to shine bright blue on 10 December 2019 to celebrate Human Rights Day. The world will light up in solidarity with the fundamental principles of human dignity that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms.


China: 9 December 2019

Responding a claim by a Chinese government official that all people held at “vocational education centres” in Xinjiang have “graduated” and achieved “stable employment,” Amnesty International urges the government to prove that this is the case. The charity has documented an intensifying government campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups living in Xinjiang.


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