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International Legal News

Weekly update: 10 December -16 December 2019

The following media round up of international legal and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period 10 December-16 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 to Nenad Vucijak for consideration.

European Court of Human Rights: 10 December 2019

In the case of Kavala v Turkey (application no.28749/18) the Court unanimously held that there had been a violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as a violation of the right to a speedy decision on the lawfulness of the detention. It was also held by six votes to one that there had been an Article 18 violation on the limitation on the use of restrictions on rights. In this case, Mr Kavala, a businessman who has been involved in setting up numerous NGO’s and civil-society movements who are active in promoting and protecting human rights, argued that his arrest and placement in pre-trial detention had been unjustified. The Court found that the authorities were unable to demonstrate that the applicant’s initial and continued pre-trial detention had been justified by reasonable suspicions based on an objective assessment of the acts attributed to him.


United States of America: 11 December 2019

US State of Ohio proposes an extreme abortion ban which bans abortion entirely- unless a woman’s life is in danger and requires doctors to “re-implant an ectopic pregnancy” into a woman’s uterus or face charges of “abortion murder”, punishable by life in prison. The bill would also punish women and girls who have an abortion with life in prison- a shockingly severe sentence that could also land women who suffer miscarriages behind bars, as it is not always possible for doctors to tell the difference.


Italy: 11 December 2019

A commitment by Italy and Mexico to ramp up climate and environmental education has been welcomed by the UN office which supports global efforts to respond to climate change. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, expressed hope that more nations will follow their initiative, announced this week at the UN COP25 climate change conference in Madrid.


Yemen: 12 December 2019

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is urged to investigate the role of executives of European arms companies and licensing officials in violations of international humanitarian law that could amount to war crimes in Yemen. The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, supported by five NGO’s, has submitted a 300-page Communication, accompanied by supporting evidence, to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor calling on the ICC to investigate whether high-ranking officials, from both European companies and governments, could bear criminal responsibility for supplying arms used by members of the Saudi Arabia/ UAE-led Coalition in potential war crimes in Yemen. Specifically, it requests an investigation into their potential complicity in 26 specific airstrikes.


Myanmar: 12 December 2019

Speaking on the third and final day of hearings at the International Court of Justice in the case brought by The Gambia under the 1948 Genocide Convention, the West African country’s lead lawyer stated that Myanmar cannot be trusted to hold its soldiers accountable for alleged atrocities against its Rohingya minority, and measures to stop the violence need to be taken immediately. Futhermore, Paul Rechler repeated the demand for “provisional measures” to restrain the Myanmar military until the case has been heard in full.


Sierra Leone: 12 December 2019

The rejection by the Economic Community of West African States’ of the ban imposed by Sierra Leon’s government preventing pregnant girls from sitting exams and attending mainstream school gives hope to thousands of girls whose rights to access education without discrimination had been violated for the past four years due to this inherently discriminatory ban. The Court found that the policy barring pregnant school girls amounted to discrimination and breached provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights as well as other international law instruments to which Sierra Leone is a party. It ordered the policy to be revoked with immediate effect.


Mexico: 14 December 2019

The future of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s ambitious Mayan Train project hangs in the balance as the communities on the train’s proposed route express their thoughts about the plan. The new 1,525 KM train route in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is expected to connect nature reserves and archaeological zones in the impoverished southeast states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo and Campecehe to the existing tourism hub of Cancun. Environmentalists and indigenous groups have expressed their concerns over the project and more than a dozen assemblies will be held in areas along the train’s proposed route to hear their concerns.


Lebanon: 15 December 2019

Thousands of Lebanese people took to the streets in Beirut on Sunday to protest against the potential nomination of Saad Hariri as Prime Minister and in defence of the violent crackdown on demonstrators by security forces on the previous night. Riot police had used tear gas and rubber-coated bullets as well as beating and arresting protesters in an attempt to disperse rallies outside parliament in the capital overnight on Saturday. The incident was one of the most violent crackdowns on protesters since nationwide anti-government demonstrations began two months ago, leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri on 29 October. Protesters want a new government of independent experts to be appointed to steer the country though its economic crisis.


India: 16 December 2019

India’s internet shutdown in Kashmir is now the longest ever in a democracy. The shutdown which entered its 134th day on Monday, is now the longest ever imposed in a democracy according to Access Now, an international advocacy group that tracks Internet suspensions. Only authoritarian regimes such as China and Myanmar have cut off the internet for longer. India imposed the shutdown on August 5th when authorities revoked Kashmir’s autonomy and statehood, snapping all communications and detaining the region’s mainstream politicians.


Iran: 16 December 2019

Thousands are arbitrarily detained and at risk of torture in chilling post-protest crackdown. Iran’s authorities are carrying out a vicious crackdown following the outbreak of nationwide protests on 15 November, arresting thousands of protesters as well as journalists, human rights defenders and students to stop them from speaking out about Iran’s ruthless repression. Amongst those arrested are children as young as 15. According to credible sources, at least 304 people have been killed as well as detainees being subjected to enforced disappearance and torture.


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