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International Legal News

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Weekly update: 29 August - 7 September.

The following media round up of international legal and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period 29 August - 7 September.

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.

Rwanda – 31 August

On 31 August, the Rwandan Investigation Bureau tweeted that Paul Rusesabagina, the manager of ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ has been arrested abroad on an international arrest warrant and deported to Rwanda to face charges of terrorism, arson, kidnapping and murder.

Venezuela – 01 September

UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, welcomed the decision of the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro to pardon 110 people, most of them Venezuelan politicians who were imprisoned, in exile or under precautionary measures. The pardon closes criminal proceedings against them and grants them unconditional freedom. The measure will benefit many legislators who had been stripped of their parliamentary immunity, as well as political advisors and other politicians.

Sudan – 01 September

UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, welcomed the signing of a peace deal between the Transitional Government of Sudan and the majority of the country’s armed groups as a major step in ending the suffering and human rights violations and abuses inflicted on the Sudanese people over the past decades.

The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) – 01 September

On 01 September, the IRMCT launched a new Unified Court Records database (UCR), which for the first time brings together all public judicial records of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Mechanism.

Syria – 02 September

The Syrian government and opposition attended a UN-facilitated meeting as part of efforts to resolve the conflict in the country. The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, said that despite disagreements, several areas of commonalities had also been found. He reiterated his call for a nationwide ceasefire in line with Security Council Resolution 2254, and noted that trust-building gestures, including progress on the release of abductees, detainees and missing persons have been elusive – however, he also noted that with continued clam on the ground and with progress on the political track, he hoped to see some progress on this.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) – 02 September

The Pre-Trial Judge of the STL will hold a second Status Conference on 16 September – the hearing aims to review the status of the connected Ayyash case and ensure expeditious preparation for trial through an exchange between the Prosecution, Defence and Legal Representatives of the Victims.

This case (separate from Ayyash et al case in which judgement was recently given on 18 August 2020) relates to three attacks against Mr Marwan Hamade, Mr Georges Hawi and Mr Elias El-Murr on 1 October 2004, 21 June 2005 and 12 July 2005 respectively. The accused, Salim Jamil Ayyash, is charges with five counts in relation to these attacks.

Cambodia – 03 September

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Comrade Duch, has died at the age of 77, though the cause is unreported. Duch was serving a life sentence for his role in running the Tuol Sleng prison, the most notorious Khmer Rouge site of torture, where thousands were tortured and murdered by the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. Reports suggest that approximately 15,000 individuals were tortured at Tuol Sleng prison, forced to confess to crimes, and later executed in the killing fields.

Belgium - 03 September

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled the application in the case of Mahi v. Belgium manifestly ill-founded and declared it inadmissible.

The applicant, a teacher of Islamic religion in schools run by the French Community of Belgium, complained that he had been disciplined on account of comments which he had made in an open letter to the press, concerning, in particular, the terrorist attacks in Paris in January 2015 against Charlie Hebdo magazine.

The Court deemed the applicant’s comments incompatible with his duty of discretion as a teacher.

Mexico – 04 September

The unanimous decision by the Mexican Senate to recognise the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to examine individual complaints is a significant step in the country’s human rights development, the Committee said in a statement on 04 September.

Turkey - 07 September

President of the European Court of Human Rights, Robert Spano, paid an official visit to Turkey from 3 to 5 September 2020. He was accompanied by Saadet Yuksel, judge elected in respect of Turkey, and Hasan Bakirci, Deputy Section Registrar.

During his visit, President Robert Spano was received by Mr. Erdogan, President of the Republic of Turkey. At this meeting, President Spano discussed the situation of Turkey before the Court and recalled the principles set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. He stressed the importance of the rule of law and democracy and in particular in those contexts the need to safeguard the independence of the judiciary and freedom of expression.

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