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International Legal News

Weekly update: 18 - 27 April 2020

The following media round up of international legal and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period 18 - 27 April 2020

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.

The European Court of Human Rights: 18 April 2020

On 18 April, a case involving the UK Government concerning the impact of COVID-19 on conditions of detention in prison was communicated: Hafeez v the United Kingdom (application no. 14198/20). The applicant in Hafeez is a sixty-year old man with a number of health conditions, including diabetes and asthma. He was arrested pursuant to a request by the US Government for his extradition on drugs charges. Having particular regard to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, if the applicant were to be extradited, the ECrtHR must consider if there would be a real risk of a breach of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the conditions of detention he would face on arrival.


The European Court of Human Rights: 20 April 2020

On 20 April, The European Court of Human Rights elected Robert Spano (Iceland) as its new President. He will take office on 18 May 2020. Robert Spano succeeds Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos (Greece).


European Council – Council of the European Union: 22 April 2020

On 22 April, The European Council adopted new rules intended to minimise the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the most deprived EU citizens. The amendments to the regulation on the fund for aid to the most deprived (FEAD) will make it easier for member states, partner organisations and other parties involved to access the fund and protect their staff involved in distributing the aid. Around 13 million EU citizens benefit from the fund each year.


Germany: 23 April 2020

The first criminal trial worldwide on state torture in Syria started in Koblenz, Germany, on 23 April. The Higher Regional Court in Koblenz has charged Anwar R. and Eyad A., two former officials of President Bashar al-Assad’s security apparatus, for crimes against humanity. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) supports Syrian torture survivors who are joint plaintiffs in the proceedings. In the course of the German Federal Prosecutor’s investigations, the Federal Criminal Police Office heard testimony from 17 Syrian witnesses, seven of whom will be joint plaintiffs in the case.


International Criminal Court: 23 April 2020

On 23 April, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a confidential decision partially granting the Prosecutor’s request to modify the charges against Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud (Mr Al Hassan) – the alleged member of Ansar Eddine and de facto chief of Islamic police and alleged to have been involved in the work of the Islamic court in Timbuktu. In its decision, the Chamber decided to include the charges already confirmed against Mr Al Hassan additional facts for which there are substantial grounds to believe that he would be responsible for.


UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): 27 April 2020

As Governments face the formidable challenge of protecting people from COVID-19, on 27 April, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called on them to ensure human rights are not violated under the guise of exceptional or emergency measures.


Lebanon: 27 April 2020

The coronavirus pandemic brought months of nationwide protests in Lebanon to a screeching halt, as people stayed home to protect their health and the government banned public gatherings and enforced a lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. But the rampant corruption, extreme inequality, regressive tax system, rapidly deteriorating standards of living and almost non-existent social safety net that drove more than a million Lebanese people to the streets in protest are as prevalent as ever.


Libya: 27 April 2020

It has been more than a year since renegade general Khalifa Haftar launched his military campaign to capture the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Now the commander is scrambling to maintain control of his eastern stronghold. The dramatic turn of events can be attributed to one major development: support from Turkey’s military, particularly its drone force that has successfully pushed back Haftar’s self-styled Libyan national army (LNA) from Libya’s skies.


Somalia: 27 April 2020

On 27 April, marked the publication of US Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) first quarterly assessment of civilian causalities resulting from its operations in Africa, which acknowledges that two Somali citizens were killed and three injured in an air strike.


Saudi Arabia: 27 April 2020

Saudi Arabia will no longer impose the death penalty on people who committed crimes whilst still minors, the country’s Human Rights Commission says. The announcement, citing a royal decree by King Salman, comes two days after the country said that it would ban flogging.



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