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International Legal News

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

Weekly update: 18 October – 24 October 2021

The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 18 October to 24 October 2021.

Guernica 37 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 at for consideration.

United Kingdom (UK) – 18 October 2021

More than 4,500 people have been held in immigration detention in the UK before being released into the community and only then identified as potential victims of trafficking, official figures for the past five years show. Charities claim the figures demonstrate a “detain first, ask later” attitude that runs counter to the fight against modern slavery and suggest others are probably being deported without having been referred for support. They fear the situation will be exacerbated by the nationality and borders bill, which they say makes it harder to identify victims.

Haiti – 18 October 2021

A source in the Caribbean country’s security forces told CNN that one of Haiti's most powerful gangs is believed to be behind the kidnapping of 17 American and Canadian missionaries over the weekend. Authorities believe the "400 Mawozo" gang abducted the group, which included 16 Americans and 1 Canadian, after the missionaries visited an orphanage on Saturday in Croix des Bouquets, a suburb northeast of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. As they were traveling from the orphanage towards Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince, gang members stopped the vehicle at gunpoint.

Iraq – 18 October 2021

Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the Prime Minister of Iraq, stated that the Islamic State militant who masterminded a suicide bombing in Baghdad in 2016 that killed 300 people has been detained. He announced that Ghazwan al-Zawbaee was captured in an "intelligence operation outside the country", and he accused the Iraqi national of being the "primary culprit behind the Karrada atrocity and many others". The attack in the Karrada district was the deadliest single bombing in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003. A lorry filled with explosives was blown up next to a crowded shopping centre where people had been enjoying a night out after breaking their daily fasts for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Many of the victims were killed by a fire that ripped through the building after the bomb blast.

Israel / Palestine – 19 October 2021

Hamas has warned Israel that another war is inevitable unless its occupation of Palestine ends and the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza is resolved. A senior Hamas official said that the fight will continue "with all means", until an independent Palestinian state is established. Dr Ghazi Hamad said he refused to recognise the state of Israel and didn't rule out another conflict: "Everything is open. Hamas tries to avoid wars, we try to protect our people, we try to give people a good life here, but the occupation all the time is right in front of my eyes."

Syria – 20 October 2021

At least 27 people have died in Syria after the bombing of an army bus in Damascus, followed by what appeared to be tit-for-tat regime shelling of a town in the rebel-held north-west that killed four children on their way to school. The Sana state news agency reported that two bombs planted on a bus carrying soldiers in central Damascus were detonated during the Wednesday morning rush-hour, killing 14 people in the worst such attack in the capital in four years.

Yemen – 20 October 2021

Prosecutors stated that two former German soldiers have been charged with terrorism for allegedly seeking to start a mercenary force to fight in the Yemeni civil war. The two men, Arend-Adolf G. and Achim A., were arrested on suspicion of attempting to establish a terrorist organisation. They allegedly planned to recruit up to 150 men for a private army made up of former police officers and soldiers, and wanted to offer their services to Saudi Arabia's government for illegal missions in Yemen.

Spain / United States (US) – 21 October 2021

Spain's high court has ruled that Venezuela's former spy chief, Hugo Carvajal, should be extradited to the US. Mr Carvajal faces charges of drug trafficking and collaborating with Colombia's Farc terrorist group, but he could also have incriminating evidence against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, a major adversary of the US. Mr Carvajal fell out with Mr Maduro and fled Venezuela for Spain in 2019. Mr Carvajal has repeatedly denied having any links to drug traffickers or the Marxist Farc rebels, and claimed that the charges against him are politically motivated.

According to new research, the Syrian government is siphoning off millions of dollars of foreign aid by forcing UN agencies to use a lower exchange rate. Researchers from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Operations & Policy Center thinktank and the Center for Operational Analysis and Research found that the Central Bank of Syria, which is sanctioned by the UK, US and EU, in effect made $60m (£44m) in 2020 by pocketing $0.51 of every aid dollar sent to Syria, making UN contracts one of the biggest money-making avenues for President Bashar al-Assad and his government. While the central bank’s official exchange rate has improved this year to SYP2,500 to the US dollar, the black market rate is SYP3,500. Legitimate traders and consumers prefer to use the black market rate, as they receive more Syrian pounds for foreign currency.

European Union (EU) – 22 October 2021

The EU Parliament called for thorough investigations to be launched into any wrongdoing exposed by the Pandora Papers that took place in EU jurisdictions. Adopting a resolution by 578 votes in favour, 28 against and 79 abstentions, MEPs identified what they see as the most urgent measures the EU needs to take to close loopholes that currently allow for tax avoidance, money laundering and tax evasion on a massive scale. They also called for legal action to be taken by the Commission against EU countries that do not properly execute existing laws.

Israel / Palestine – 22 October 2021

The Israeli Defense Ministry issued a military order declaring six Palestinian civil society organisations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to be “terrorist organisations.” The groups are Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees. The designation, made pursuant to a 2016 Israeli statute, effectively outlaws the activities of these civil society groups. It authorises Israeli authorities to close their offices, seize their assets and arrest and jail their staff members, and it prohibits funding or even publicly expressing support for their activities.

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