Weekly update: 15 November – 21 November 2021 The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 15 November to 21 November 2021.
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.
Sudan – 15 November 2021
Sudanese security forces have raided the home of Al Jazeera’s Khartoum bureau chief and arrested him a day after street protests across Sudan against a military takeover. The Qatar-based media organisation said it held Sudan’s military authorities responsible for the safety of all its employees after bureau chief El Musalmi El Kabbashi was arrested on 14 November. Al Jazeera said that it “condemns in the strongest terms the reprehensible actions of the military and calls on the authorities to release El Kabbashi immediately and to allow its journalists to operate unhindered”. The European Union condemned “in the strongest terms the violence perpetrated against peaceful civilian protesters” on 13 November, and said it was “very worried” by the detention of journalists.
United Kingdom (UK) – 15 November 2021
A 14-year-old black schoolboy has accused the Metropolitan police of racist targeting after claiming he has been stopped by police about 30 times in the last two years. He has not been charged with or convicted of any offence. The boy, who lives in south London with his 41-year-old mother, and hopes to train as an engineer, says he has been stopped and searched so many times by the police that he has become fearful of leaving home. His mother has made complaints to the Metropolitan Police Service, which has confirmed that its Directorate of Professional Standards has launched an investigation, and to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. In her complaint to the IOPC the mother says she believes her son has been targeted on the basis of his race and his age.
Egypt – 15 November 2021
Fifteen human rights groups said that Egyptian authorities have held Salah Soltan in incommunicado detention since June 2020, in conditions that amount to enforced disappearance and may amount to torture or other ill-treatment, in likely retaliation for his son’s human rights activism. Earlier that same month, Soltan’s son Mohamed, a prominent US-based human rights defender, filed a civil suit in a US federal court under the Torture Victim Protection Act against former Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawy for his role in Mohamed’s alleged torture in Egypt in 2013. The authorities forcibly disappeared Salah Soltan on 15 June 2020, detaining him for over a year in locations they refused to disclose, before allowing two family members a brief prison visit in August 2021. During that visit, Salah Soltan informed them about his appalling detention conditions, including prolonged solitary confinement, since June 2020.
Turkey – 16 November 2021
Haiti’s foreign minister, Claude Joseph, has stated that Turkish authorities have arrested a man considered a suspect of “great interest” in the assassination in July of the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse. The suspect, Samir Handal, a businessman, was detained at Istanbul airport early on 15 November, where he arrived in transit from the US to Jordan. His arrest was announced by authorities in Haiti. More than 40 suspects have been arrested so far in relation to Moïse’s murder, including 18 former Colombian soldiers and several Haitian police officers.
Uganda – 16 November 2021
Police said that suicide bombers have targeted the Ugandan capital Kampala, killing at least three people and injuring more than 30 others. Three attackers on motorbikes blew themselves up near parliament and the city's police headquarters. The number of dead is likely to rise, with the blasts leaving body parts strewn in the streets. Officials blamed the attacks on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group based in the DR Congo. Army spokeswoman Brig Gen Flavia Byekwaso told BBC Focus on Africa radio that “the terrorists keep on changing tactics and now they've graduated to suicide bombings”. The attacks came within three minutes of each other, and more bombs have been found in other parts of the city.
Council of Europe – 17 November 2021
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has adopted a Second Additional Protocol to the Convention on enhanced co-operation and the disclosure of electronic evidence, which will extend the rule of law further into cyberspace, protect internet users, and help provide justice for those who become victims of crime. The Protocol provides a legal basis for disclosure of domain name registration information and for direct co-operation with service providers for subscriber information, effective means to obtain subscriber information and traffic data, immediate co-operation in emergencies, mutual assistance tools, as well as personal data protection safeguards. The text should be opened for signature in May 2022.
Syria – 17 November 2021
Fair Trials and the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) have expressed strong concerns about INTERPOL’s decision to reinstate the Syrian government’s access to its Information System. By allowing Syrian authorities to issue Red Notices, thousands of refugees in Europe are in danger. The open letter, co-signed by 19 organisations representing Syrian refugees, calls on INTERPOL to ensure that robust procedures are put in place to guarantee their safety.
India – 18 November 2021
India's Supreme Court has struck down a controversial high court order that cleared a man of sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl because "there was no skin-to-skin contact" with the victim. The order, passed by a female judge of the high court in Mumbai in January, had resulted in massive outrage. In its ruling on 18 November, the Supreme Court bench said the courts must look at the sexual intent and not whether there was skin-to-skin contact.
Pakistan – 18 November 2021
Sex offenders convicted of multiple rapes could face chemical castration in Pakistan after lawmakers passed a new anti-rape legislation that aims to speed up convictions and impose tougher sentences. It comes in response to a mass public outcry over a recent surge in rapes against women and children in the country, and growing demands to ensure justice for victims of sexual assault. The bill states that Pakistan's government must establish special courts nationwide to expedite rape trials and ensure sexual abuse cases are decided "expeditiously, preferably within four months."
Turkey – 18 November 2021
An Israeli married couple detained by Turkey on spying charges for almost a week has been released and flown home. Mordi and Natali Oknin, who are both bus drivers, said they were on holiday in Istanbul when they were arrested for taking photographs of the residence of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a joint statement thanking Mr Erdogan and his government "for their co-operation".
United Kingdom (UK) / Palestine – 19 November 2021
Priti Patel has today laid before Parliament an order to outlaw the militant Islamist terrorist movement Hamas in its entirety from the UK. Hamas is an organisation which calls for the establishment of an Islamic Palestinian state under Sharia law and has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel. It has long been involved in significant terrorist violence. The organisation’s military wing is already banned in the UK but following a new assessment, the Home Secretary has concluded it should be proscribed in its entirety. This action will support efforts to protect the British public and the international community in the global fight against terrorism. Hamas is already listed in its entirety by the United States and European Union.
India – 19 November 2021
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced he would repeal three contentious agricultural laws that sparked more than a year of protests. Modi acknowledged the importance of farmers and the challenges they have faced. He said it was a priority issue for his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). For more than a year, Indian farmers have fought the three laws, which they said leave them open to exploitation by large corporations and could destroy their livelihoods. The laws, which were passed last September, loosened rules around the sale and pricing of produce that have protected farmers from an unregulated free market for decades. Modi said, "the timing indicates there is an electoral motive…These farm laws have been repealed after a year of protest in which farmers have been through all manner of hardship (including) the cold, the heat, pollution…violence, and, at times, state repression."
Croatia – 19 November 2021
After four years of legal struggle, the European court of human rights has ruled that Croatian police were responsible for the death of a six-year-old Afghan girl when they forced her family to return to Serbia via train tracks without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum. The little girl, named Madina Hussiny, was struck and killed by a train after being pushed back with her family by the Croatian authorities in 2017. The judges said that the Republic of Croatia violated the girl’s right to life, treated children inhumanely by keeping them in detention, illegally deprived the whole family of their liberty, collectively expelled part of the family from Croatia, and ultimately prevented them from accessing their lawyer.