Weekly update: 20 March – 26 March 2023
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 20 March to 26 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.
Iran – 20 March 2023
A UN human rights expert has said the scale and gravity of Iran’s violations of human rights amount to a crime against humanity. The remarks on Monday by the UN rapporteur on Iran, Javaid Rehman, came as the EU and the UK imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) officers, judicial officials and clerics, but held back from proscribing the IRGC.
International Criminal Court (ICC) – 20 March 2023
Karim Khan, the Prosecutor of the ICC, will plead for extra cash to pursue Russian war crimes in Ukraine, including the potential prosecution of Vladimir Putin for overseeing the abduction of children from Ukraine to Russia. Khan made his dramatic move against the Russian president last week ahead of a conference in London co-hosted by the UK and the Dutch government aimed at raising cash to fund the ICC’s war crimes investigatory work inside Ukraine. The ICC’s budget has not been increased even though it has 40 investigators working inside Ukraine.
United Kingdom (UK) – 20 March 2023
Legal experts have cast doubt on the UK’s claims of “possible reforms” to European court of human rights procedures that stopped an asylum seeker from being deported to Rwanda last year. During a two-day visit to the country’s capital, Kigali, Suella Braverman told a selected group of government-friendly papers that she was “encouraged” by the government’s “constructive” talks with Strasbourg to overhaul court injunctions. An ECHR injunction last June prevented an Iraqi national from being deported from the UK to the east African country.
Australia / Afghanistan – 21 March 2023
Governments everywhere should be closely following the recent war crime charge brought against a former Australian soldier. In a joint statement, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) said it will be alleged that the soldier murdered an Afghan man while deployed to Afghanistan with the Australian Defence Force. It is a significant development in justice and accountability, the likes of which have never been seen in Australia. This is an important opportunity for authorities to uphold the rule of law by ensuring respect for the fair trial rights of the accused, including the presumption of innocence of any individual charged with a criminal offense, and ensuring accountability for war crimes.
Russia / United Kingdom (UK) – 21 March 2023
Vladimir Putin has sought to exploit a British statement that it would supply Ukraine with tank shells made with depleted uranium, arguing that the delivery of the armour-piercing weapons would prompt a Russian response. Putin did not elaborate, although the Russian leader frequently makes nuclear-related threats, largely in an effort to persuade western countries to limit their interventions in the war in Ukraine, which was started by Moscow’s invasion last year.
Uganda – 22 March 2023
Responding to the news that Uganda’s Parliament has passed a law that criminalises consensual sexual activity between adults of the same sex, Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, said: “President Yoweri Museveni must urgently veto this appalling legislation, which was passed following a rushed vote on Tuesday evening. The law, dubbed the ‘2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill’, amounts to a grave assault on LGBTI people and is contemptuous of the Ugandan constitution.
Ukraine / Russia – 23 March 2023
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has returned to the front line near Bakhmut where fighting has raged for months. The devastated city has long been a focal point of the war as Russian forces try to revive their military campaign in the east. His visit came as Russian forces launched a series of strikes on Ukrainian cities. At least eight people were killed near Kyiv and in Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine's military said it shot down 16 drones, but another five got through. Seven people died in an attack on student dormitories near the capital in Rzhyschiv. Then a rocket slammed into a block of flats in the south-eastern city of Zaporizhzhia, leaving one dead and 25 wounded. Local leaders said the number of victims could rise.
Ukraine / International Criminal Court (ICC) – 23 March 2023
On 23 March 2023, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Kostin Andriy, and the Registrar of the ICC, Peter Lewis, signed a cooperation agreement on the establishment of an ICC country office in Ukraine. Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin, signing on behalf of Ukraine, stated: “I firmly believe that the opening of the ICC country office in Ukraine marks the beginning of a new chapter in our close cooperation with the Court. This is just a start, a strong start, and I'm convinced that we will not stop until all perpetrators of international crimes committed in Ukraine are brought to justice, independently of their political or military position”.
Russia / Italy – 23 March 2023
A Russian national accused of smuggling military technology has escaped house arrest a day after an Italian court agreed to hand him over to US authorities. Italian authorities said Artem Uss, who was detained at Milan’s Malpensa airport on an international arrest warrant last October, broke his court-ordered electronic bracelet and left his house in Cascina Vione di Basiglio in the province of Milan. US prosecutors last year charged Uss and four other Russian citizens with shipping military technology bought from US manufacturers to Russian buyers, some of which ended up on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Rwanda – 24 March 2023
Paul Rusesabagina, a businessman whose role in saving more than 1,000 lives during the 1994 Rwandan genocide inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, has been released from prison after his 25-year sentence on terrorism charges was commuted. It is expected he will remain in Rwanda for a couple of days before travelling to Doha and then to the US, where he holds permanent citizenship. The announcement by the Rwandan government of his planned release follows intense diplomacy by the US. Historically close ties between the two countries have been strained over the case, and Rwanda’s alleged meddling in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).