top of page

International Legal News

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Weekly update: 22 December 2020 – 05 January 2021 The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 22 December 2020 – 05 January 2021. 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 Ned Vucijak for consideration.

Guyana/Venezuela – 18 December 2020

On 18 December 2020, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, delivered its Judgment on the question of its jurisdiction in the case concerning the Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela). The Court (1) by twelve votes to four, found that it had jurisdiction to entertain the Application filed by the Co-operative Republic of Guyana on 29 March 2018 in so far as it concerns the validity of the Arbitral Award of 03 October 1899 and the related question of the definitive settlement of the land boundary dispute between Guyana and Venezuela; (2) found that it does not have jurisdiction to entertain the claims of Guyana arising from events that occurred after the signature of the Geneva Agreement.

In the case of Selahattin Demirtas v. Turkey (no.2), concerning the arrest and pre-trial detention of the applicant, who at the time of the events was one of the co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a left-wing pro-Kurdish political party, the European Court of Human Rights has found several violations of the Convention, particularly freedom of expression, the right to liberty and security and the right to free elections.

The Court has also found that the reasons put forward by the authorities for the applicant’s pre-trial detention was merely cover for an ulterior political purpose: that of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate, which is at the very concept of a democratic society.

In the case of Gestur Jónsson and Ragnar Halldór Hall v. Iceland, the European Court of Human Rights held that the applications were incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention and declared the applicants’ complaints inadmissible. The applicants are two lawyers who had been appointed to defend the accused in a criminal trial; they asked the court to be allowed to withdraw from the case. They complained about the fact that they were ordered, in their absence, to pay a fine for contempt of court and dilatory conduct.

On 23 December 2020, UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Marta Hurtado expressed deep concern by the recent US presidential pardons for four security guards from the private military firm Blackwater who were convicted for killing 14 Iraqi civilians. These four individuals were given sentences ranging from 12 years to life imprisonment, including on charges of first-degree murder. Pardoning them contributes to impunity and has the effect of emboldening others to commit such crimes in the future. International Criminal Court (ICC) – 24 December 2020

The Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court held its nineteenth session from 14 to 16 December 2020 at the World Forum Convention Centre in The Hague. The session was attended by States Parties, Observer States, invited States, international and regional organisations and representatives of civil society. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, measures were implemented to diminish the risk to participants of exposure to the virus. Additional measures were taken to allow for virtual participation during the session.

The Chinese authorities have stepped-up arbitrary detentions of journalists and activists reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues, or criticizing the government, according to Human Rights Watch. Since the beginning of December 2020, the authorities have carried out new detentions of journalists and activists without providing any credible information to suggest that these individuals have committed legally recognisable offences.

In a ground-breaking decision, the Human Rights Committee has found that the Netherlands violated a child’s rights by registering “nationality unknown” in his civil records as this left him unable under Dutch law to be registered as stateless and therefore be given international protection as a stateless child. This is the Committee’s first decision on the right of a child to acquire a nationality. It relates to a petition by a child named Denny, who was born in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands in 2010 to a 21-year-old mother from China.

On 29 December 2020, UN human rights experts expressed serious concerns about the violence ahead of Uganda’s presidential election and urged authorities to put an end to the arrest, detention and judicial harassment of political opponents, civil society leaders and human rights defenders. Media outlets have reported that three journalists were hurt on 27 December 2020 after being hit by tear gas canisters in Masaka.

Early on 31 December 2020 in Iran, Mohammad Hassan Rezaiee was executed for an offence he allegedly committed when he was 16 years old. This is the fourth confirmed execution of a child offender in Iran in 2020. The execution of child offenders is categorically prohibited under international law and Iran is under the obligation to abide by this prohibition. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet strongly condemned the killing of Mohammad Hassan Rezaiee.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the United States, a court in London has ruled. The judge blocked the request because of concerns over Mr Assange’s mental health and risk of suicide in the US. Mr Assange, who is wanted over the publication of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011, says the case is politically motivated. Expressing disappointment at the ruling, the US justice department noted that its legal arguments had prevailed.

34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

International Legal News

Weekly update: 11 July – 17 July 2022 The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 11 July to 17 July 2022. Guernica 37 will provide


bottom of page