Weekly update: 26 September – 2 October 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 26 September to 2 October 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.
United Kingdom (UK) – 26 September 2022
The use of pre-recorded evidence of victims and witnesses to crimes has been introduced at crown courts in England and Wales. The Ministry of Justice said that the technology would be available at a final 20 crown courts in Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, East Anglia, Essex, London and the south-east, marking the end of a national rollout. The recording of evidence as close to the time of the offence as possible while memories remain fresh will help victims avoid the stress of giving evidence under the full glare of a live trial setting, which many find traumatic. The tool allows victims and witnesses of crimes such as rape and modern slavery to have their cross-examination video-recorded and played during trial. This is subject to a successful application to the court.
United Kingdom (UK) – 26 September 2022
The High Court has heard that judges acted wrongly when expressing views on the criminal barristers’ strike as they refused to keep defendants behind bars in cases delayed by the ongoing pay dispute. The director of public prosecutions (DPP) is challenging the legitimacy of decisions taken by judges at Bristol and Manchester crown courts not to extend the period that three men in two cases could be held on remand beyond the six-month limit. In written submissions to a judicial review hearing in London, Tom Little KC, representing the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, told the high court the decisions taken in the relevant cases should be quashed and substituted by extensions.
Kenya / Saudi Arabia – 27 September 2022
Saudi Arabia is known for its poor labour and human rights record, and is widely considered one of the most dangerous places to work in the world. Employers in the Gulf state have been dogged by allegations of physically, mentally and sexually abusing their migrant housekeepers for years; claims which continue to resurface.
Russia – 27 September 2022
Reacting to the news that Russian poet and activist Artyom Kamardin was detained and subjected to torture, including gruesome sexual violence, by law enforcement officers after posting his recital of an anti-war poem online, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director, said: “The details of Artyom Kamardin’s arrest and torture are horrific even against the abysmal human rights standards of today’s Russia. It seems that Russian law enforcement officers believe they have complete impunity for all sorts of human rights violations against people who oppose Russia’s war in Ukraine. The world must not look away but rather remind the Russian leadership: those responsible will be brought to justice for all crimes under international law, including war crimes committed in Ukraine and human rights violations committed in Russia.”
Saudi Arabia – 27 September 2022
Mohammed bin Salman has been named prime minister of Saudi Arabia in a move that experts said would probably shield the crown prince from a potentially damaging lawsuit in the US in connection to his alleged role in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
United Kingdom (UK) – 28 September 2022
Almost 3,000 prisoners in England and Wales stuck behind bars under an abolished “irredeemably flawed” indefinite sentencing scheme should be re-sentenced, MPs and peers have said. The indefinite nature of jail terms under the imprisonment for public protection (IPP) scheme has contributed to feelings of hopelessness and despair that has resulted in high levels of self-harm and some suicides among prisoners, according to the justice select committee. It says that despite IPPs being scrapped in 2012, there remain 2,926 legacy prisoners. These include 608 who are at least 10 years over their original minimum tariff, of whom 188 were originally given a minimum sentence of less than two years.
United Kingdom (UK) – 28 September 2022
Protesters accused of “significant” criminal damage cannot rely on human rights protections when on trial, the court of appeal has said. The ruling comes after the Attorney General made a referral on a point of law following the acquittal of the Colston four. Suella Braverman, who is now Home Secretary, made the referral after Conservative MPs criticised the acquittal of protesters who toppled the Bristol statue of the slave trader Edward Colston. A range of defences were used in the case. The court of appeal was asked to consider one that argued that a conviction for damage to the statue would have been a disproportionate interference with the defendants’ right to protest under the European Convention of Human Rights.
United Kingdom (UK) / Nigeria – 29 September 2022
The family of a British citizen who was allegedly taken to Nigeria in an act of extraordinary rendition has been granted a court hearing to challenge the UK government for not intervening in his case. Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), a prominent separatist movement proscribed in Nigeria, was arrested in Kenya in June last year before being transported against his will to Nigeria, where he has been held ever since. In July, the UN working group on arbitrary detention published an opinion that the father of two had been subject to extraordinary rendition and said he should be released immediately. However, successive UK foreign secretaries, first Dominic Raab and then Liz Truss, before she became prime minister, have refused to take a view as to whether Kanu was a victim of extraordinary rendition. The family has been granted a judicial review to challenge that refusal, arguing that its effect has been that no action has been taken to help him.
Russia – 29 September 2022
Vladimir Putin has signed decrees paving the way for the occupied Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be formally annexed into Russia. On 30 September, the Russian president is expected to sign into law the annexations of four Ukrainian regions – Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk – where Russia held fake referendums over the last week in order to claim a mandate for the territorial claims. Thursday night’s decrees, made public by the Kremlin, said Putin had recognised Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as independent territories. This is an intermediary step needed before Putin can go ahead with plans to unilaterally declare, on 30 September, that they are part of Russia.
United Kingdom (UK) – 30 September 2022
Hundreds of child asylum seekers are at risk of abuse and neglect due to the Home Office wrongly classifying them as adults, according to two new reports. Reports from the Refugee Council and Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) highlight concerns about the way the Home Office is treating young people upon arriving in the UK.
Ukraine – 30 September 2022
Responding to reports that at least 25 civilians were killed by a missile strike on a humanitarian convoy in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said: “The fact that a humanitarian convoy was struck in this horrendous attack is further proof of Russia’s utter disregard for civilian lives in Ukraine. People delivering humanitarian aid are not military targets, and it is devastating to see more lives ruined by wanton death and destruction. All those responsible for Russia’s repeated unlawful attacks in Ukraine must be held accountable for their actions.”
Russia – 30 September 2022
Russia has formally annexed four occupied regions of Ukraine, in a move sparking international condemnation. President Vladimir Putin signed "accession treaties" with the regions' Moscow-installed leaders at a ceremony in the Kremlin's opulent St George's Hall. Kyiv reacted by launching a new, fast-track bid to join the Nato alliance. Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was reluctant to be drawn on the bid, saying the decision rested with the bloc's 30 members. But he condemned Moscow's annexation of Ukrainian territory, calling the move "the most serious escalation since the start of the war".