Weekly update: 7 March – 13 March 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 7 March to 13 March 2022. 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.
International Court of Justice (ICJ) – 7 March 2022
The ICJ has said it will decide “as soon as possible” on a Ukrainian demand for an emergency order that Russia halt hostilities immediately, after a hearing in The Hague that was boycotted by Moscow. The UN’s highest court closed a hearing on Monday afternoon a day earlier than planned because of the Russian boycott. Ukraine said Russia was obliged to listen to whatever the ICJ ruled. The court is using a fast-track procedure that can bring a ruling on provisional redress in days. There is no chance of Russia complying with the ruling, but it will deal another blow to Moscow’s waning diplomatic prestige.
United States (US) – 7 March 2022
Joe Biden attracted criticism from both progressives and Republicans after a report indicated the White House was planning a visit to Saudi Arabia to discuss global oil supply. Axios reported that Biden’s senior advisers were considering a spring trip to Saudi Arabia in an effort to improve relations and to propose a potential increase in oil exports. If another oil-producing nation like Saudi Arabia or Venezuela started exporting more to the US and the EU, such shipments could help fill the gap created by a Russian ban. But such attempts to find other oil suppliers have sparked outrage among some lawmakers. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a member of the “Squad” of progressives in the US House, accused Biden of turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s alleged war crimes in Yemen.
Ukraine – 8 March 2022
Human Rights Watch said that for several hours on 6 March, Russian forces bombarded an intersection on a road that hundreds of civilians were using to flee the Russian army’s advance in northern Ukraine to Kyiv. The repeated nature of the attacks, which according to the government killed at least eight civilians, suggests that Russian forces violated their obligations under international humanitarian law not to conduct indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks that harm civilians, and failed to take all feasible measures to avoid civilian casualties.
Afghanistan – 8 March 2022
More than 80,000 global supporters and activists have signed a petition calling on the international community to urgently stand up for women’s rights in Afghanistan and hold the Taliban accountable for their unrelenting suppression of women and girls’ rights, Amnesty International said today on International Women’s Day. The petition, which calls for states to prioritise, monitor and support women’s and girl’s rights in Afghanistan, has been delivered to governments across the globe.
United States (US) – 8 March 2022
Prince Andrew has paid a settlement to sexual abuse accuser Virginia Giuffre, according to her attorney, and a US district judge agreed Tuesday to dismiss her lawsuit against the Duke of York. "The payment was received, the settlement we announced last month has been completed. We are obviously very pleased with the outcome," Giuffre attorney David Boies told CNN. Mr. Boies would not disclose the amount the two parties agreed upon. After the payment was made, attorneys for both parties filed a stipulation for the lawsuit to be dismissed with prejudice, meaning Giuffre cannot refile the claim in the same district court in New York.
Ukraine – 9 March 2022
There is "a frenzy in the market" for private contractors in Ukraine today, said Robert Young Pelton, a Canadian American author and expert on private military companies (PMCs). The job advert “Wanted: multilingual former soldiers willing to covertly head into Ukraine for the handsome sum of up to $2,000 (£1,523) per day - plus bonus - to help rescue families from an increasingly grim conflict” comes from an employment website, Silent Professionals, for those working in the private military and security industry. Insiders say that demand is growing. The recruitment platform would not say who it was advertising for, but according to Mr Pelton, contractors are being hired for between $30,000 and $6m to help remove people from Ukraine.
Russia – 10 March 2022
Russia could be planning a chemical or biological weapon attack in Ukraine - and "we should all be on the lookout", the White House has said. Press secretary Jen Psaki said Russia's claims about US biological weapon labs, and chemical weapon development in Ukraine, were preposterous. She called the false claims an "obvious ploy" to try to justify further premeditated, unprovoked attacks. Western officials said they were "very concerned" about the risk the war could escalate, and particularly the possibility of Russia using non-conventional weapons. This most likely refers to chemical weapons although the term also covers tactical (small-scale) nuclear weapons, biological weapons and dirty bombs.
Ukraine – 10 March 2022
Three people including a child were killed in a Russian strike on a maternity and children's hospital in the city of Mariupol, officials say. President Volodymyr Zelensky said people were trapped under the wreckage, and called the attack a war crime. He also posted footage apparently from inside the hospital, which appeared badly damaged. Some 17 people were also injured, including staff and patients, local officials said. "We don't understand how it's possible in modern life to bomb a children's hospital. People cannot believe that it's true," Mariupol Deputy Mayor Serhiy Orlov told the BBC.
Turkey / Azerbaijan – 10 March 2022
In the case of Shenturk and Others v. Azerbaijan, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 5(1) of the Convention (right to liberty and security) as well as a violation of Article 3 (prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment). The case concerned the arrest, detention and expulsion of the applicants from Azerbaijan to Turkey. All four had worked in Azerbaijan as teachers in private schools associated with the Gülen movement. The Court found in particular that the removal of the applicants had been a disguised extradition and their deprivation of liberty had been part of an extra-legal transfer in contravention of domestic and international law, noting how the authorities had circumvented formal extradition proceedings and relevant international safeguards, violating their Article 5 and Article 3 rights.
United Kingdom (UK) – 11 March 2022
The Metropolitan police breached the rights of the organisers of a planned vigil for Sarah Everard in the way they handled the planned event, high court judges have ruled, in a decision hailed as a “victory for women”. Reclaim These Streets (RTS) proposed a socially distanced vigil for the 33-year-old, who was murdered by a serving Met officer, Wayne Couzens, near to where she went missing in Clapham, south London, in March last year. Four women who founded RTS and planned the vigil brought a legal challenge against the force over its handling of the event, which was also intended to be a protest about violence against women.
Saudi Arabia – 11 March 2022
Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, jailed and sentenced to 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam online", has been freed. The blogger's first 50 lashes caused a global outcry and he became an emblem of rights abuses in the country. There has been no official Saudi comment on his release. His sentence ended on 1 March. However, he is subject to a 10-year-travel ban and it is unclear whether he will face other restrictions. The NGO Reporters Without Borders said it would work to ensure he can join his family in Canada despite the ban. Mr Badawi, now 38, established the Liberal Saudi Network, a forum that sought to encourage debate on religious and political matters in Saudi Arabia, in 2008. In 2012, Mr Badawi was arrested in the city of Jeddah and charged with "insulting Islam through electronic channels" and "going beyond the realm of obedience".
Russia – 11 March 2022
Responding to the Russian authorities’ decision to block access to Amnesty International’s Russian-language website as part of the Kremlin’s assault on freedom of expression following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said that “people in Russia have the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds and from all available sources. By blocking Amnesty’s Russian-language site, along with those of many other human rights organizations, independent media outlets and social media platforms, the Kremlin is showing that it can’t stomach the truth about the horror Russia has unleased in Ukraine.”