Weekly update: 13 March – 19 March 2023 The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 13 March to 19 March 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.
Uzbekistan / United Kingdom (UK) – 13 March 2023
A report has found that a dictator's daughter who moonlighted as a pop star and diplomat spent $240m (£200m) on properties from London to Hong Kong. Gulnara Karimova used UK companies to buy homes and a jet with funds obtained through bribery and corruption, the Freedom For Eurasia study says. It adds that accounting firms in London and the British Virgin Islands acted for UK companies involved in the deals. The story raises fresh doubts about the UK's efforts to tackle illegal wealth. British authorities have long been accused of not doing enough to prevent criminals from overseas using UK property to launder money. The report says the ease with which Karimova obtained UK property was "concerning".
Nigeria – 13 March 2023
Emeh Nnamdi is a whistle-blower responsible for leaking evidence of corruption, kidnappings, human organ harvesting and extra-judicial killings by Nigerian police officials. Nnamdi reportedly used an anonymous social media account, “Gistlovers”, to leak official documents that have led to criminal investigations of top officials. Soon after Nnamdi’s identity was outed on social media, Nigerian police launched a man-hunt and issued an arrest warrant on 20 February 2023. He was subsequently arrested on a Red Notice in neighbouring Benin on 6 March 2023 following an Interpol-led operation between Nigerian and Benin law enforcement agencies and he is currently detained in Nigeria.
United Kingdom (UK) – 13 March 2023
Hundreds of people have gathered in Parliament Square to protest against the government’s controversial new asylum and migration law as MPs debated the measures in the Commons. The protest was organised after the government announced its illegal migration bill which would stop people entering the UK on small boats from claiming asylum as well as plans to ban them from returning once removed. Asylum seekers currently have the right to remain in the country to have their cases heard.
International Criminal Court (ICC) – 13 March 2023
The prosecutor at the ICC, Karim Khan, will formally open two war crimes cases and issue arrest warrants for several Russians deemed responsible for the mass abduction of Ukrainian children and the targeting of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. The New York Times and Reuters news agency reported that the prosecutor, Karim Khan, would ask pre-trial judges to approve arrest warrants on the basis of evidence collected so far. If successful, it would be the first time ICC warrants have been issued in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is not clear whether the warrants would be sealed, which would leave suspects guessing over whether they had been implicated. It is unlikely that the warrants would lead to trials as the ICC would not try the defendants in absentia, and Russia, which is not a member of the ICC, is highly unlikely to hand them over to the court, based in The Hague.
Syria / United Kingdom (UK) – 14 March 2023
Britain’s Ministry of Defence is refusing to say whether it conducted an investigation into reports of civilian casualties after an RAF drone strike conducted against a terrorist target in northern Syria last December. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, told MPs that a Reaper drone was used to attack “a leading Daesh [Islamic State] member in al-Bab, northern Syria” on 20 December, the latest strike in controversial policy of attempted targeted killing. The target was Abu Yasser al-Yemeni, believed to be an IS leader, but two or possibly more civilians were also reported hurt, in an attack that raises further questions about the collateral damage from RAF strikes in Syria and Iraq.
Poland – 14 March 2023
A court in Poland has convicted an activist for helping a pregnant woman access abortion pills, sentencing her to eight months of community service in a landmark case over abortion rights in the predominantly Catholic country. Along with Malta, Poland’s anti-abortion laws are among the most restrictive in Europe, allowing for termination only in the event of incest, rape or a risk to the mother’s health. Helping a woman obtain an abortion is also illegal.
India / United Kingdom (UK) – 15 March 2023
The Foreign Office has asked for claims to be examined in a secret court that a British citizen was detained and tortured after the security services passed intelligence to the Indian government, newly filed court papers show. The government department is refusing to confirm or deny claims that Jagtar Singh Johal, a British Sikh activist, was detained in India in 4 November 2017 after an alleged tipoff to the Indian security services. Johal faces nine charges including conspiracy to murder, an offence that can carry the death sentence. After five and a half years he is yet to stand trial, despite court hearings being scheduled close to 300 times. The former Conservative home secretary David Davis said: “This case raises troubling questions about the role played by the UK’s intelligence services in the abduction and torture of a British citizen overseas.”
Iran – 16 March 2023
Amnesty International said that Iran’s intelligence and security forces have been committing horrific acts of torture, including beatings, flogging, electric shocks, rape and other sexual violence against child protesters as young as 12 to quell their involvement in nationwide protests.
Thailand – 16 March 2023
Human Rights Watch said that prosecutors in Thailand should immediately withdraw the criminal defamation cases brought by Thammakaset Company Ltd. against three prominent human rights defenders for their support of other activists facing criminal charges. The Thai government should act to repeal criminal defamation provisions and introduce strong safeguards to prevent the use of frivolous, vexatious, or malicious legal actions that would have chilling effects on free speech.
International Criminal Court (ICC) – 17 March 2023
The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, a move dismissed by Moscow as meaningless. The Hague-based court said in a statement that the warrant was issued over Putin’s suspected involvement in the unlawful deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia. The ICC, which has no powers to enforce its own warrants, also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the commissioner for children’s rights in the office of the Russian president, on similar allegations.
Russia – 17 March 2023
Russia has threatened to destroy any fighter jets given to Ukraine by its allies, after two countries promised planes. Slovakia became the second Nato country to pledge Kyiv some MiG-29 aircraft on Friday, a day after Poland. Slovakia's fleet was grounded last year and it no longer uses the jets. Ukraine has asked Western countries for modern jets, but because of long training times, these are seen only as long-term options. It sees extra aircraft as important for its defences and possible counter-attacks, a year into Russia's invasion. Other Nato countries are considering sending planes such as the MiG-29 - a model which dates from the time of the Soviet Union - which Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly.