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International Legal News

Weekly update: 13 - 19 May 2020

The following media round up of international legal and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period 13 - 19 May 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.

Rwanda: 16 May 2020

Félicien Kabuga, one of the most wanted suspects of the Rwandan genocide, has been arrested near Paris, the French justice ministry has announced. Mr Kabuga was detained in a dawn raid in Asnières-sur-Seine, where he had been living under a false identity.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has charged the 84-year-old with genocide and crimes against humanity. He is alleged to have been the main financier of the ethnic Hutu extremists who slaughtered 800,000 people in 1994.

On 19 May UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has hailed the arrest on 16 May in Paris of Félicien Kabuga, who is accused of playing a leading role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

“The arrest of Félicien Kabuga, 26 years after the genocide, underscores the long reach of international criminal accountability. No one committing international crimes should think that the passage of time means they can evade justice and will never be held to account,” said Bachelet.

The International Criminal Court (ICC): 18 May 2020

On 18 May, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its decision on Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba’s claim for compensation and damages. Mr Bemba was arrested in May 2008 following an ICC arrest warrant and was acquitted by the ICC Appeals Chamber on 8 June 2018.

European Commission: 18 May 2020

On 18 May, a joint statement was issued by High Representative Borrell, Vice-President Jourová and Commissioner Dalli on the rights of persons with disabilities. Although coronavirus is impacting every country and region of the world and every aspect of our lives, the pandemic and its socio-economic consequences are having a disproportionate impact on the rights of persons with disabilities such as in terms of equal access to health care, support services, and education.

European Court of Human Rights: 18 May 2020

Robert Spano, judge elected in respect of Iceland took office as President of the European Court of Human Rights on 18 May 2020. He succeeds Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, judge elected in respect of Greece.

Germany: 18 May 2020

On 18 May, Anwar R, main defendant in the first trial worldwide on Syrian state torture, has given a statement in Koblenz. Anwar R is charged with being an accomplice in torturing at least 4000 people, murdering 58 people, as well as rape and aggravated sexual assault in the al-Khatib prison. “Anwar R is obviously trying to downplay his role by saying he obeyed orders. That is common practice in such trials. But he allegedly issued, not merely received and followed them,” said ECCHR general secretary Wolfgang Kaleck after the hearing.

Hungary: 19 May 2020

On 19 May, there was a vote in the Hungarian parliament on new legislation that bans the legal recognition of transgender and intersex people. Amnesty International’s Researcher, Krisztina Tamás-Sáróy said: “This decision pushes Hungary back towards the dark ages and tramples the rights of the transgender and intersex people. It will not only expose them to further discrimination but will also deeper an already intolerant and hostile environment faced by the LGBTI community.”

United States: 19 May 2020

An agreement between the United States and Guatemala effectively compels Salvadoran and Honduran asylum seekers to abandon their claims, say Refugees International and Human Rights Watch.

A joint report by Refugees International and Human Rights Watch, “Deportation with a Layover: Failure of Protection under the US-Guatemala Asylum Cooperative Agreement,” shows that the US-Guatemala Asylum Cooperative Agreement, or ACA, does not meet the criteria in US law for a Safe Third Country Agreement that would enable Salvadorans and Hondurans to seek asylum in a safe country other than the US.

Libya: 19 May 2020

Forces allied with Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) say they have recaptured two towns near the Tunisian border from eastern-based renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

“Our heroic forces have entered the towns of Bader and Tiji amid welcome from their residents,” the media office of the Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) Operation, the government-led counteroffensive launched last April, said in a statement on Facebook on Tuesday.”


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