Weekly update: 15 August – 21 August 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 15 August to 21 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 - 18 August 2022
Israeli forces have raided the offices of six Palestinian human rights groups in the occupied West Bank that it previously accused of being terrorist organisations, a move decried as an “appalling attack” on Palestinian civil society.
Property belonging to the prominent advocacy groups was confiscated and entrance doors sealed by soldiers in the early hours of Thursday.
At the offices of Al-Haq, an internationally respected human rights organisation based in Ramallah, the front door was welded shut and a Hebrew statement left saying it would remain closed for “security reasons”. The minister of an Anglican church on the ground floor of the building, which rents the space to Al-Haq, said the church was also raided and its glass doors smashed.
Saudi Arabia - 18 August 2022
Salma al-Shehab, the Saudi PhD student who was sentenced to 34 years in prison for using Twitter, told a Saudi court that she had faced abuse and harassment during her detention, including being subjected to interrogations after being given medications that exhausted her.
The 34-year-old, who was completing her PhD at Leeds University before her January 2021 arrest during a holiday at home, also alleged that she had been “repeatedly accosted” by at least five men for being a member of the kingdom’s Shia Muslim minority. Without providing more details, Shehab said the actions had led to an “outright insult and abuse of human dignity”.
In the statement, Shehab alleges that she was not given access to a lawyer after her initial arrest in January 2021 and was illegally held for 285 days before being referred to a court. Under Saudi rules, she should have been released after 180 days.
China - 18 August 2022
U.N. top expert on slavery said in a report that it is “reasonable to conclude” that forced labour of members of minority groups has taken place in China’s Xinjiang region.
"The Special Rapporteur regards it as reasonable to conclude that forced labour among Uighur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing has been occurring in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China," it said.
Afghanistan - 20 August 2022
A female former senior judge from Afghanistan who is in hiding from the Taliban with her son has filed an appeal to the Home Office after her application to enter the UK was denied.
Lawyers for the woman – who is named as “Y” – said they had submitted an appeal on behalf of their client and her son at the Immigration Tribunal, saying she had been left in a “gravely vulnerable position” by the withdrawal of British and other western troops.
They said the British government’s decision has stopped them from joining British and settled family members in the UK who said they are “very afraid she will take her own life”.
China - 20 August 2022
Rising political and security tensions between Beijing and the west have prompted calls for a review of the transfer of genetic data to China from a biomedical database containing the DNA of half a million UK citizens.
The UK Biobank said it had about 300 projects under which researchers in China were accessing “detailed genetic information” or other health data on volunteers. The anonymised data is shared under an open-access policy for use in studies into diseases from cancer to depression. There is no suggestion it has been misused or participants’ privacy compromised.
Biobank said data was only given to bona fide researchers, who must agree to store it securely and use it for a specified purpose, adding that it has “stringent controls” in place including “rigorous access and ethics checks”.
Mexico - 20 August 2022
Mexico’s former attorney general has been arrested in relation to the disappearance of 43 students in 2014, the most prominent individual held so far in the notorious case that has haunted the country ever since.
Jesús Murillo was arrested at his home in Mexico City home on Friday on charges of forced disappearance, torture and obstruction of justice in the abduction and disappearance of the student-teachers in the south-western state of Guerrero, now seen as a “state-sponsored crime”.