Weekly update: 29 August – 4 September 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 29 August to 4 September 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.
Yemen – 29 August 2022
Fifteen human rights groups said that Houthi forces, also known as Ansar Allah, should immediately open vital roads in and around Taizz, Yemen’s third-largest city, and restore freedom of movement for all civilians to prevent further deterioration of the already grave humanitarian crisis in Taizz. The main roads in and out of the city of Taizz have been closed since 2015 by Houthi forces, severely restricting freedom of movement for civilians and impeding the flow of essential goods, medicine, and humanitarian access to the city’s residents. There has been little progress on opening the roads, despite UN efforts. The UN announced a two-month truce, starting April 2, 2022, which included a provision for its special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, to “invite the parties to a meeting to agree on opening roads in Taiz and other governorates to facilitate the movement of civilian men, women, and children.”
Bangladesh – 29 August 2022
Human Rights Watch stated, on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, that Bangladesh authorities should heed international calls for transparent, independent investigations into enforced disappearances. On August 14, 2022, Netra news – which is blocked in Bangladesh – published a whistleblower report revealing that Bangladesh officials were allegedly holding and torturing victims of enforced disappearance at a secret detention site called Aynaghar (house of mirrors). The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, during her three-day visit to Bangladesh in August, called on the government to establish a “specialized mechanism that works closely with victims, families and civil society to investigate allegations of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.” She offered her office’s support to create such a mechanism in line with international standards. Bangladesh’s strategic and trade partners have urged the government to step up measures to hold senior members of security forces accountable and prevent future abuses.
United Nations (UN) – 30 August 2022
The outgoing High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has told UN News in an interview to mark the end of her term in office that she’s always spoken out and felt free to act, while acknowledging that doing the job is “a constant and permanent struggle” to prevent governments from restricting essential freedoms.
Russia – 30 August 2022
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has paid warm tribute to the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, whose death aged 91 was announced today, describing him as the person who “more than any other” brought about the peaceful end of the Cold War, which had dominated international relations since the 1940s. Mr. Gorbachev became Soviet leader in 1985, when nuclear tensions between East and West were still running high, with a reformist programme designed to revive the economy and modernise the political system, adopting the policies of “perestroika”, and “glasnost”, or openness. He ended the Cold War by successfully negotiating with US President Ronald Reagan to abolish a whole class of missiles through the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, ended the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and precipitating the breakup of the Warsaw Pact, Soviet domination of eastern Europe, and ultimately the Soviet Union itself, all in the space of just six years.
Syria – 30 August 2022
Shamima Begum, who fled the UK and joined the Islamic State group, was smuggled into Syria by an intelligence agent for Canada. Files seen by the BBC show he claimed to have shared Ms Begum's passport details with Canada, and smuggled other Britons to fight for IS. Ms Begum's lawyers are challenging the removal of her citizenship, arguing she was a trafficking victim. Canada and the UK declined to comment on security issues.
Saudi Arabia – 31 August 2022
Activists said that a Saudi woman has been sentenced to 45 years in prison for her social media posts, in the second case of its kind this month. A terrorism court convicted Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani of "using the internet to tear the social fabric" and "violating public order by using social media", rights group Dawn reported. Little is known about her other than that she criticised Saudi leaders.
United States (US) – 31 August 2022
Documents stored at former President Donald Trump's Florida home were likely concealed as part of an effort to obstruct an FBI investigation, Department of Justice officials say. In a court filing, the department said "efforts were likely taken to obstruct" the investigation into Mr Trump's handling of classified material. The filing was a response to Mr Trump's request for an independent party to oversee part of the ongoing case. Mr Trump denies wrongdoing.
Ukraine – 1 September 2022
Most of the international team of nuclear experts visiting the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have left, after overcoming initial challenges in reaching the facility, which included an hours-long delay, and a drive through an active war zone to reach the facility. The visit by the team of 14 experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including its chief Rafael Grossi, came at a crucial moment for the plant, which has endured constant shelling and raised fears of a nuclear accident.
Ukraine / Russia – 1 September 2022
Human Rights Watch stated that Russian and Russian-affiliated forces have been forcibly transferring Ukrainian civilians, including those fleeing hostilities, to the Russian Federation or areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia. The 71-page report, “‘We Had No Choice’: ‘Filtration’ and the Crime of Forcibly Transferring Ukrainian Civilians to Russia,” documents the transfers of Ukrainian civilians. The transfers are a serious violation of the laws of war that constitute war crimes and potential crimes against humanity. Russian and Russian-affiliated authorities also subjected thousands of Ukrainian citizens to a form of compulsory, punitive, and abusive security screening called “filtration.”
Ukraine – 2 September 2022
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that further damage to the embattled Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine “cannot” be allowed to happen. Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi was speaking after he and IAEA experts visited Europe’s largest nuclear plant, which has seen repeated shelling in recent weeks, sparking fears of a catastrophe. The Zaporizhzhia plant houses six of the 15 nuclear reactors in Ukraine. It has been occupied by Russian forces since the early weeks of the war in Ukraine, now in its seventh month. Both sides have accused the other of shelling the plant.
India – 2 September 2022
Amnesty International stated that the Indian government has drastically intensified the repression of rights in Jammu & Kashmir in the three years since the change in status of the region. The new briefing, “We are being punished by the law”: Three years since of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, documents how civil society at large and journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders in particular have faced relentless interrogations, arbitrary travel bans, revolving door detentions and repressive media policies while blocking access to appeals or justice in courts and human rights bodies.