International Legal News
Weekly update: 3 May 2021 – 9 May 2021
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 3 May 2021 to 9 May 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.
United Kingdom (UK) / Iran – 3 May 2021
British officials played down a report that an agreement had been reached between Iran, the UK and Washington that would see Tehran receive billions of dollars in return for releasing hostages, including British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. It is claimed that Washington would pay $7 billion for four Americans jailed in Iran and that the UK would pay £400 million for the release of Nazanin, who was detained in 2016 and has been in prison ever since. Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin’s husband, said that he was not aware of any swap in the works, adding that “we haven’t heard anything…Of course we probably wouldn’t, but my instinct is to be sceptical at present.”
Iran – 4 May 2021
UN independent human rights experts called on Iranian authorities to immediately release a political activist, who apparently is at risk of severe health complications and even death if not provided with appropriate medical care. The rights experts stated that they are extremely concerned at the mistreatment of Mohammad Nourizad and his continued detention merely for expressing his opinion, adding that “his case is emblematic of the situation many Iranian political activists face in detention”.
European Commission / United Kingdom (UK) – 4 May 2021
The European Commission said that the UK should not be allowed to join the Lugano Convention. In a non-binding recommendation, the commission said the EU should block the accession of the UK to the 2007 Lugano Convention, an agreement setting out which country’s courts may hear cross-border disputes and which decisions can be enforced. Losing the Lugano framework means reverting to the national laws of each individual country to decide which court has jurisdiction over a legal issue and whether a judgment will be recognised.
United Kingdom (UK) / India – 4 May 2021
The Governments of the UK and India have signed a new landmark migration agreement, which will allow young British and Indian nationals live and work in each other's countries and accelerate the removal of illegal migrants. In a first of its kind between the two countries, the agreement will ensure greater co-operation around organised immigration crime.
United Kingdom (UK) – 5 May 2021
Campaigners have warned that more victims of trafficking will be locked up in detention and forcibly removed from the UK after MPs approved a change in Home Office rules relating to this vulnerable group. MPs recently confirmed what is known as a statutory instrument. This change in rules relating to the detention of trafficking victims comes into force on 25 May and will require them to provide a higher standard of proof that they should not be detained. Lawyers and human rights campaigners say the imminent changes will lead to many more victims of trafficking being locked up.
United Kingdom (UK) / India – 5 May 2021
National Crime Agency officers will be embedded in Indian police forces to help to break up gangs of people smugglers based on a deal to restrain illegal immigration, as part of a wider "2030 road map" to boost co-operation on crime, trade, health, climate change, immigration, education, science and defence between the UK and India. The agreement also includes negotiations over a post-Brexit free trade deal, which will begin in Autumn 2021.
International Criminal Court (ICC) – 6 May 2021
The international criminal court has sentenced a former militia leader and child soldier from Uganda to 25 years in prison after he was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in a landmark judgment. The presiding judge, Bertram Schmitt, said the panel of judges had considered sentencing Dominic Ongwen to life imprisonment, the court’s harshest punishment, but had sided against it due to the defendant’s own personal suffering.
Poland – 7 May 2021
In the case Xero Flor v. Poland, the European Court of Human Rights found that there had been a violation of the right to a fair hearing and of the right to a tribunal established by law under Article 6(1) of the Convention. The election of judges to the Constitutional Court, dating back to 2015, occurred via an irregular procedure, therefore on these grounds, the Court found that the Constitutional Court was unlawful.
Russia – 7 May 2021
Amnesty International has reversed its decision to strip Alexey Navalny of his "prisoner of conscience" status. The human rights group had revoked the label from Navalny in February over past comments he had made against illegal immigration and for attending a nationalist march years ago. Amnesty International stated that “our approach has been refined to not exclude a person from designation as a Prisoner of Conscience solely based on their conduct in the past…It is part of Amnesty's mission to encourage people to positively embrace a human rights vision and to not suggest that they are forever trapped by their past conduct."