Weekly update: 6 February – 12 February 2023
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 6 February to 12 February 2023.
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.
Russia/Ukraine – 6 February 2023
The head of the United Nations, António Guterres, has warned that further escalation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict could mean the world is heading towards a “wider war”. The secretary general laid out his priorities for the year in a gloomy speech to the UN general assembly that focused on Russia’s invasion, the climate crisis and extreme poverty.
France – 6 February 2023
On 30 January, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne launched the National Plan Combating Racism, Antisemitism and Discrimination Linked to Origin 2023-2026. While this new action plan on racism is welcome, it leaves huge gaps. For instance, the government aims to improve historical teaching and memorialization in school curricula. The plan however fails to tackle institutional racism deeply rooted in France’s colonial past.
Africa – 7 February 2023
Human rights abuses committed by security forces and economic deprivation are among the most important drivers of recruitment to extremist groups in Africa. Researchers working for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) interviewed more than 1,000 active or recent militants across eight countries in Africa in the pioneering study. Their report – Journey to Extremism in Africa: Pathways to Recruitment and Disengagement – is one of the biggest anywhere in the world on the motivations of militants, and comes against a background of increasing extremist violence across a swath of the continent.
European Court of Human Rights – 7 February 2023
In the case of B v. Russia, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention. The Court was called upon to examine whether the State had sufficiently protected B’s rights during those proceedings in the light of her particular vulnerability owing to her young age and the alleged sexual abuse. It found that the Russian authorities had displayed utter disregard for her suffering and had failed to protect her personal integrity in the course of the criminal proceedings, which had led to her secondary victimisation.
United Kingdom (UK) – 7 February 2023
Black and minority ethnic defendants are significantly more likely to be charged for a comparable offence than white British defendants in England and Wales, a study commissioned by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has found. The findings, described as “troubling” by the CPS and experts, show that defendants from mixed ethnic backgrounds are most likely to be charged, with 79.1% of the suspects charged, almost 10 percentage points higher than the rate of white British defendants charged.
Uganda – 8 February 2023
Rights activists and campaigners have condemned the Ugandan government’s decision to shut down the country’s UN human rights office, describing it as “shameful”. In a letter to the Office of the UN high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) in Uganda dated 3 February, the foreign affairs ministry said it will not renew the host country agreement it signed with the OHCHR, which established its initial mandate in the country in 2005. The current mandate, signed on 9 February 2020, expires in August.
Iran – 8 February 2023
Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards raped two women in an attack covered up by state prosecutors, according to an internal judicial document seen by the Guardian. The document, originally leaked to Iran International by hacktivist group Edalat-e Ali (Ali’s Justice), reveals the case of sexual assault by two IRGC officers of a woman aged 18 and a woman of 23 in a van during protests against the death in September of Mahsa Amini in police custody in Tehran. The two women were detained for acting suspiciously, it said, and their phones were examined for evidence they had been at the protests. Activists have alleged that some of the women arrested have been sexually abused by security officials during the protests, but this is the first internal document that has emerged showing a specific case.
United Kingdom (UK) – 9 February 2023
The UK government has rejected a call for prisoners detained indefinitely to be resentenced, in a move criticised by the chair of the justice committee as a “missed opportunity to right a wrong”. A report by the cross-party justice committee published last year said people stuck in prison under the now abolished imprisonment for public protection (IPP) scheme should be resentenced. The justice secretary, Dominic Raab, said the government had rejected resentencing as it “could lead to the immediate release of many offenders who have been assessed as unsafe for release by the Parole Board, many with no period of supervision in the community.”
Ukraine / Russia – 9 February 2023
Russia has launched a drone and missile attack on targets in the south and east of Ukraine, according to officials and local residents who reported hearing loud explosions. Western governments believe Russia is planning a major assault on Ukraine, possibly as early as next week before the 24 February anniversary of the launch of its full-scale invasion. Its main goal is believed to be to capture the Donbas region, including Luhansk, which Ukraine partly controls.
Afghanistan / United Kingdom (UK) – 10 February 2023
Several thousand Afghans who helped British forces before the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 remain stranded and at risk from the Taliban because of failures of the government’s settlement schemes, according to a damning report by MPs. The defence select committee’s report urged the government to set out what action it is taking to ensure safe passage to the UK for at least 4,600 Afghans, including interpreters and contractors, who worked for UK forces.