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International Legal News

Weekly update: 04 - 11 August.

The following media round up of international legal and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period 04 - 11 August.

The Guernica Group 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 Nenad Vucijak for consideration.

UAE – 04 August

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold public hearings from 31 August to 7 September 2020 on preliminary objections by the UAE in a case concerning the application of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

US – 04 August

The ICJ will hold public hearings from 14 to 21 September 2020 on preliminary objections by the USA in a case against it brought by Iran, concerning alleged violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Relations (the 1955 Treaty). The USA has raised preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the ICJ and the admissibility of Iran’s application.

Albania – 04 August

In the case of Tershana v. Albania the European Court of Human Rights has found a violation of the right to life in connection with the procedural aspect of the case, which concerned an acid attack on the applicant in a Tirana street in 2009.

The Court ruled that the State could not be held responsible for the attack because it had not been aware of any threat to the applicant or of the violent conduct of her former husband, whom she suspected of having carried out the attack.

Iraq – 05 August

On 30 July 2020, a few days before the 6th anniversary of the Yezidi genocide, Amnesty International published a report on the challenges faced by almost 2,000 Yezidi children who had returned to their community in Iraq after being held captive by the Islamic State (ISIS). Inter alia, the report finds that the children were enslaved, tortured, forced to fight, raped and subjected to other horrendous human rights violations.

Yemen – 06 August

On 06 August, the UN’s human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, said that she is appalled by the high number of human rights violations against journalists across Yemen – including killings, disappearance and death sentences in violation of international human rights law.

Since the start of April, the UN Human Rights Office has documented one assassination, one abduction, three cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, the sentencing of four journalists to death in violation of international human rights law and jailing of six others, three physical assaults and threats of physical violence. These violations and abuses carried out by all parties to the armed conflict in Yemen.

Lebanon – 07 August

A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that this week’s horrific blast in Beirut has brought into sharp focus the need for the international community to step up and help Lebanon and its people at their time of crisis. Only a swift international response and sustained engagement will prevent many more lives being lost.

Four weeks ago, the High Commissioner issued a stark warning that the situation in Lebanon was fast spiralling out of control. Then, the High Commissioner urged the Government, political parties and leaders to enact urgently needed reforms and to address essential needs such as shelter, food, electricity, health and education.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) – 07 August

The Trial Chamber of the STL issued a notice of postponing the issuance of its judgment in the Ayyash et al case from 7 August to 18 August. The Chamber was set to deliver a ruling over the 2005 bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. The Trial Chamber noted this is being done out of “respect for the victims” of this week’s explosion in Lebanon and in light of the “three-day period of public mourning.” The judgment has been rescheduled to 11am on 18 August.

Myanmar – 07 August

The Legal Representatives of Victims at the ICC filed a request that the Court consider the feasibility of holding hearings in the proceedings on the Situation in Myanmar/Bangladesh outside of the Netherlands. The LRVs note that there are issues not only accessing victims in Myanmar, but that these issues are now acutely relevant for refugees living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. While the distance from the ICC makes engagement and participation in the process difficult for victims, living in the refugee camps increases these difficulties due to restriction of movement and activities as well as a block on internet access in Cox’s Bazar.

Monaco – 08 August

Monaco has “cynically” bypassed British courts by orchestrating the arrest of a British whistle-blower when he went on a family holiday to Croatia, says his lawyer.

Toby Cadman, Head of Guernica 37 Chambers, has accused Monaco of “an abuse of process” in the way it has pursued Jonathan Taylor, who blew the whistle on a multimillion-pound bribery scandal at the Monaco-based SBM Offshore.

Myanmar – 10 August

Facebook has asked the US District Court for the District of Colombia to deny the Gambia’s request for the disclosure of a limited number of documents and communications made by key Myanmar military and government officials on Facebook. The purpose of accessing these documents is to aid in the ongoing judicial proceedings at the International Court of Justice against the Republic of the Union of Myanmar for breaches of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Gambia have argued that these documents are highly relevant to the ongoing case which accuses the government of Myanmar of perpetrating a genocide against its Rohingya population. It is hoped that these communications may shed light on how the government may have encouraged or orchestrated the genocide.

US/ISIS – 10 August

Islamic State’s ‘Beatles’ could finally face justice for alleged role in beheading Americans. Following a phone call with Attorney General William Barr, the parents of Americans killed by the Islamic State (IS) are hopeful two IS detainees will face justice.

Six years ago, this month, IS published its first video in what would become the prevailing image of the war: a jumpsuit-clad hostage kneeling before a knife-wielding executioner. For the parents of slain Americans James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller, justice has remained elusive.

But two of the families were given fresh hope after a phone call with Attorney General William Barr on 06 August. Barr told them federal prosecutors will take the death penalty off the table as a potential sentence for two men alleged to have tortured and killed foreign hostages. This decision would make it possible for the UK, the suspects’ home country, to share evidence that could be key to putting el-Shafee el-Sheikh and Alexanda Kotey behind bars in the US.

China/Hong Kong – 11 August

Human Rights Watch urged Hong Kong authorities to immediately release 10 pro-democracy figures arrested on 10 August for vague “national security” crimes and drop all the charges against them. Human Rights Watch calls on governments to support the call by 50 United Nations human rights experts to hold a special session on China at the UN Human Rights Council and establish a new monitoring mechanism for China.


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