International Legal News
Weekly update: 25 April – 1 May 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 25 April to 1 May 2022.
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 email@example.com for consideration.
Mali – 25 April 2022
A jihadist group in Mali claims to have captured a fighter from the Kremlin-linked Wagner mercenary group reportedly fighting Islamist militants in the west African country. “In the first week of April, [we] captured a soldier of the Russian Wagner forces in the Segou region in central Mali,” the GSIM (the Group to Support Islam and Muslims) said in a statement sent to AFP overnight. It is the first time the GSIM, an al-Qaida-linked alliance and the biggest jihadist network in the Sahel, has announced the capture of a fighter with the Wagner group.
Sudan – 25 April 2022
Clashes between rival groups in Sudan’s Darfur killed at least 168 people on 24 April, an aid group has said, in the latest bout of deadly violence to hit the restive region. Darfur, which was ravaged by civil war that erupted in 2003, has seen a spike in deadly conflict since October last year triggered by disputes mainly over land, livestock and access to water and grazing.
International Criminal Court (ICC) – 25 April 2022
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC will become a participant in the joint investigation team (JIT) on alleged core international crimes committed in Ukraine. The JIT, which was set up with Eurojust support on 25 March by Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, aims to facilitate investigations and prosecutions in the concerned States as well as those that could be taken forward before the ICC. ICC Prosecutor Mr Karim A.A. Khan QC and the Prosecutors General of the three countries involved signed an agreement on the first-ever participation of the Office of the Prosecutor in a JIT. With this agreement, the JIT parties and the Office of the Prosecutor are sending a clear message that all efforts will be undertaken to effectively gather evidence on core international crimes committed in Ukraine and bring those responsible to justice.
Australia – 26 April 2022
Six Indonesian children wrongly jailed in Australia as adult people smugglers have cleared their names in a case exposing a grave and “substantial miscarriage of justice”. The six Indonesians, aged between 13 and 17 at the time of their arrest, were intercepted on fishing boats in Australian waters in 2009, during the highly charged political climate around border protection. The children had been lured on to the boats from their impoverished villages with vague offers of highly paid work, often unaware of their destination or that they were to transport asylum seekers.
El Salvador – 26 April 2022
El Salvador's defence minister has praised the extension by Congress of emergency measures which he says are having a "positive" effect in the battle against rampant gang violence. René Merino said that more than 17,000 suspected gang members had been arrested since the state of emergency was declared a month ago. The emergency measures have been controversial as they limit some constitutional rights, such as allowing the security forces to arrest suspects without a warrant. The sentences for convicted gang members have also been raised to a maximum of 45 years in jail.
Pakistan – 26 April 2022
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the Pakistan government should amend provisions of the criminal law that treat murder and other serious offenses as private disputes. These legal provisions, called “blood money” laws, allow and at times compel victims of serious crimes or their families to “forgive” suspects and drop criminal charges, typically out of fear of retaliation or in exchange for financial compensation. “Blood money” provisions allow those accused of murder and other serious offenses to avoid criminal penalties, resulting in severe miscarriages of justice. Pakistan’s new government should promptly revise the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code provisions to end the practice for grave crimes.
United Kingdom (UK) / European Union (EU) – 27 April 2022
The UK and EU have warned that Twitter must comply with new content rules or face sanctions that range from fines to a total ban, as concerns were raised that hate speech will increase on the platform under the ownership of Elon Musk. Amnesty International said it was concerned about any decision that Twitter may take after Musk’s takeover to erode enforcement of the policies and mechanisms designed to moderate hate speech online.
Myanmar – 27 April 2022
A court in military-ruled Myanmar has found former leader Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of corruption, the latest verdict in a series of secret trials. Ms Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since February 2021 when a military coup ousted her elected government. The 76-year-old Nobel laureate has been charged with a raft of criminal offences including voter fraud. She denies all of the accusations and rights groups have condemned the court trials as a sham. The closed-door hearings in the capital Nay Pyi Taw have been shut to the public and media, and Ms Suu Kyi's lawyers forbidden from speaking to journalists.
United Kingdom (UK) – 27 April 2022
An official review has concluded that some terrorists in prison enjoy status and celebrity among their fellow inmates amid a culture of fear and violence in jails in England and Wales that is being exacerbated by staffing cuts. Jonathan Hall QC, the government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, found that a pecking order of terror offenders can develop, based on the notoriety or charm of an extremist prisoner that means they may be held in high esteem by fellow inmates.
United Kingdom (UK) – 28 April 2022
Priti Patel’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is facing its first legal challenge after a charity instructed lawyers to demand the disclosure of documents because of fears the policy is contrary to international law. In a pre-action letter to the Home Office, which is expected to lead to a judicial review claim, the solicitors Leigh Day stated that the charity Freedom from Torture “has serious concerns about the lawfulness of the policy”. It has requested “disclosure of information regarding the policy”, including documents outlining it, risk assessments and the memorandum of understanding signed by the UK and Rwandan governments.
Ukraine / Russia – 28 April 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that any country trying to intervene in the Ukraine war will face a "lightning-fast" response. "We have all the tools no-one can boast of... we will use them if necessary", he said, in what is seen as a reference to ballistic missiles and nuclear arms. Ukraine's allies have stepped up the supply of weapons, with the US vowing to make sure Ukraine defeats Russia. Western officials say Russia is being hampered in its efforts in the east.
Ukraine – 29 April 2022
Rockets hit Kyiv during the UN Secretary General's visit to the city, in which he criticised his own organisation's Security Council. António Guterres said the council had failed to prevent or end the war in Ukraine. He stated that this was "a source of great disappointment, frustration and anger," adding that "[it] failed to do everything in its power to prevent and end this war”.
United States (US) / Syria – 29 April 2022
An Islamic State group militant from the UK has been jailed for life by a US court for his involvement with a notorious hostage-taking terror cell. Alexanda Kotey, 38, pleaded guilty last September to eight criminal charges relating to the abduction, torture and beheading of IS hostages in Syria. Kotey, originally from London, showed no emotion as judge Thomas Selby Ellis delivered his verdict. Judge Ellis described his actions as "egregious, violent and inhumane".
United Kingdom (UK) – 29 April 2022
A barrister was unlawfully discriminated against by her chambers, which, encouraged by Stonewall, wrongly treated her gender-critical views as transphobic and bigoted, an employment tribunal has been told. Allison Bailey is suing Garden Court chambers and Stonewall after she was asked by her chambers to delete two tweets criticising the LGBTQ+ charity’s position on trans rights and which Stonewall had complained about. Bailey, a lesbian and founder of the gender-critical group LGB Alliance, refused to delete the tweets and alleges unlawful discrimination and victimisation, claiming she suffered detriment at the hands of the chambers, including a reduction in work offered to her by clerks. People who are gender-critical disagree with the view that gender identity should be prioritised over biological sex.