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International Legal News

Weekly update: 04 – 10 January 2021

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – 04 January 2021

French prosecutors have announced the arrest of Roger Lumbala on 29 December 2020. My Lumbala is a former opposition lawmaker who led the RCD-N party, an armed group suspected by UN investigators of carrying out extrajudicial killings, rapes and cannibalism during the DRC’s civil war between 1998 and 2002. Mr Lumbala has been charged with complicity in alleged crimes against humanity.

United States of America (USA) – 04 January 2021

On 04 January 2021, Katherine Polk Failla, a U.S. District Judge in the Southern District of New York ordered the Trump administration to not enforce an executive order imposing economic and travel sanctions against the staff of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and anyone supporting the ICC regarding its investigations in Afghanistan. The lawsuit related to this order was filed in October 2020 against President Trump and other members of the Trump administration by the Open Justice Society Foundation (OJSF) and four law professors.

Australia – 04 January 2021

Mark Weinberg, the Australian special investigator into allegations of war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, began his work this week. He is tasked with investigating allegations raised in a report authored by Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Paul Brereton, which recommended 19 current and former ADF members be prosecuted for 39 unlawful killings and torture of two prisoners. His report was the result of a four-year investigation into allegations of crimes committed by ADF members.

Vietnam – 05 January 2021

On Tuesday 05 January, three independent journalists in Vietnam received severe sentences of between 11- and 15-years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of national security offences – a disturbing development that appears to be part of an increasing clampdown on the freedom of expression in the country.

European Union – 07 January 2021

On 10 December 2020, the EU Council adopted a decision and regulation establishing a global human rights sanctioning regime called the ‘EU Human Rights Global Sanctions Regime’ similar to the USA’s ‘Magnitsky Act.’ The new regime allows the EU to punish individuals, entities and bodies, including non-state actors for human rights violations including genocide, torture, assassination and arbitrary detentions. The sanctions that can be imposed include travel bans targeting individuals and asset and fund freezes applicable against individuals and entities. In addition, the legislation bans Europeans from making funds available to those engaged in serious human rights violations.

United States of America (USA) – 07 January 2021

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet made a statement expressing that she was deeply troubled by the attack on the US Capitol on 06 January 2021, which demonstrated clearly the destructive impact of sustained, deliberate distortion of facts, and incitement to violence and hatred by political leaders. Allegations of electoral fraud have been invoked to try to undermine the right to political participation. However, she was encouraged to see that the process to certify president-elect John Biden continued in spite of serious attempts to disrupt it.

Iran – 07 January 2021

According to Human Rights Watch, one year on, Iranian authorities have failed to conduct a transparent and credible investigation into the shooting down of Ukraine International Airline flight 752 on 08 January 2020, which killed all 176 passengers and crew onboard.

Uganda – 08 January 2021

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, expressed deep concern regarding the deteriorating human rights situation Uganda ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 14 January and the challenges this situation may pose not only for voting day itself, but also for the post-electoral period.

Hong Kong – 08 January 2021

Human Rights Watch called for the Hong Kong government to not file charges against the 53 pro-democracy politicians arbitrarily arrested on 06 January 2021. All were arrested for “subversion” under Hong Kong’s draconian National Security Law (NSL), which the Chinese government imposed on 30 June 2020.

Myanmar – 08 January 2021

Human Rights Watch called for Japan-based Kirin Holdings Company, Ltd to publish its investigation report on the military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. (MEHL) and swiftly cut ties with the company. Kirin announced the conclusion of an investigation by Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory LLC on 07 January 2021 but declined to publish the report for confidentiality reasons.


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