Weekly update: 8 August – 14 August 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 8 August to 14 August 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Israel / Palestine – 8 August 2022
A truce between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad has taken effect in the Gaza Strip after three days of cross-border fighting triggered by surprise Israeli airstrikes. US president Joe Biden welcomed the agreement on Sunday, and called on all parties to “fully implement the ceasefire, and to ensure fuel and humanitarian supplies are flowing into Gaza as the fighting subsides”. The president also lamented the injury and death of civilians in Gaza, but did not specify who was responsible. He said that “the reports of civilian casualties in Gaza are a tragedy, whether by Israeli strikes against Islamic Jihad positions or the dozens of Islamic Jihad rockets that reportedly fell inside Gaza”. The US, he said, had worked with both sides and regional partners “to encourage a swift resolution to the conflict”.
Russia / Ukraine – 8 August 2022
Russian forces occupying the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have turned the site into a military base to launch attacks against Ukrainian positions, the head of Ukraine's nuclear power company says. Petro Kotin told the BBC the threat to the plant was "great", but that it remained safe. For days, Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for attacks on the site, Europe's largest nuclear plant, raising concerns of a major accident. The complex has been under Russian occupation since early March, although Ukrainian technicians still operate it. Over the weekend, Ukraine accused Russian forces of attacking the Soviet-era site, saying two workers were taken to hospital with shrapnel injuries and that three radiation sensors had been damaged.
Nigeria – 9 August 2022
Human Rights Watch said that a series of attacks and threats within close proximity of Nigeria’s seat of government in Abuja by Islamist and other armed groups are causing fear and apprehension among citizens in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and across the country. The Nigeria Police Force has assured citizens that it has scaled up security in the federal region, which includes Abuja, but these attacks and threats, even to kidnap the president, indicate an alarming deterioration of the nation’s security situation. The authorities need to ensure adequate security for all civilians while respecting human rights.
Canada – 9 August 2022
The mercenary spyware industry represents “one of the greatest contemporary threats to civil society, human rights and democracy”, a leading cybersecurity expert warns, as countries grapple with the unregulated spread of powerful and invasive surveillance tools.
United States (US) / Saudi Arabia – 10 August 2022
A former Twitter employee has been found guilty of spying on Saudi dissidents using the social media platform and passing their personal information to a close aide of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. A jury in a federal court in California found Ahmad Abouammo, a dual US-Lebanese national, had acted as an unregistered agent of the Saudi government. Abouammo was found to have used his position at Twitter to find personal details identifying critics of the Saudi monarchy who had been posting under anonymous Twitter handles, and then supplying the information to Prince Mohammed’s aide Bader al-Asaker. In return, Asaker is said to have given him a $20,000 watch and paid a total of more than $300,000 to an account in Lebanon set up in Abouammo’s father’s name.
United Kingdom (UK) – 10 August 2022
Suella Braverman, the UK government’s chief law officer, has argued that ministers should “take radical action” to counter the influence of European human rights rules to curb a burgeoning industry of highly paid equalities officers touting bogus grievances. The Attorney General said it was “a national priority” to extricate the UK from the influence of the European court of human rights, saying the court’s interventionist approach on rights issues potentially jeopardised democracy.
Ukraine – 11 August 2022
Satellite images appear to show major damage and a number of destroyed Russian warplanes at a Crimea airbase following explosions there this week. The Saky base in the west of Russian-ruled Crimea was rocked by a string of blasts on Tuesday, killing one person. The base's runways appear intact, but at least eight aircraft seem damaged or destroyed with several craters visible. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility - but this new evidence suggests the possibility of a targeted attack.
United States (US) / Rwanda – 11 August 2022
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is expected to press Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, for the release of jailed dissident Paul Rusesabagina during his visit to the capital Kigali. Blinken is in Kigali on the last stop of a tour of sub-Saharan Africa that aims to regain the diplomatic initiative across a continent that received little attention under the Trump administration.
Russia / Ukraine – 11 August 2022
Amnesty International said that a UN Security Council session due to take place today, 11 August, must urgently prioritise civilian protection and accountability for the litany of war crimes committed by Russian forces and call for an end to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Russia requested the Security Council session, to focus on growing concerns over the militarisation of a nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. The UN Secretary-General has warned that any damage to that or other nuclear plants could result in “catastrophic” consequences in the immediate vicinity and far beyond.
Ukraine / Russia – 12 August 2022
More shelling of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been reported, with Ukraine and Russia again blaming each other for the attack. Each side said there were 10 hits on the office and fire station of Europe's biggest power plant. At a meeting of the UN Security Council called to discuss the situation, the head of its nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, warning it was a "grave hour". UN Secretary General António Guterres also said it could "lead to disaster". China and the US both called for UN experts to be allowed to urgently visit the plant, but similar demands in the past have so far not been acted upon. Earlier, the US also called for a demilitarised zone to be established around the plant: "Fighting near a nuclear plant is dangerous and irresponsible," a state department spokesperson said.
United Kingdom (UK) – 12 August 2022
The Crown Court backlog has increased for a third consecutive month, according to figures published by HM Courts & Tribunals Service – and will only get worse if criminal barristers decide to go on a full-blown strike over legal aid funding next month. This time last year the backlog stood at 60,162. Aside from a small rise after Christmas, it was steadily falling until April. Progress is likely to have been halted by the decision of hundreds of barristers to adopt a policy of ‘no returns’, withdrawing a longstanding goodwill gesture in which they covered cases returned due to a diary clash caused by a rescheduled hearing. In April, the backlog stood at 58,540, up from 57,856 the previous month. It climbed to 58,750 in May, reaching 58,973 in June, when criminal barristers escalated their action – staging a two-day court walkout towards the end of the month and refusing to accept new instructions as well as returned cases.