Weekly update: 14 March – 20 March 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 14 March to 20 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 email@example.com for consideration.
United Kingdom (UK) / United States (US) – 14 March 2022
Julian Assange has moved a step closer to a US trial on espionage charges after the UK’s highest court refused to hear his appeal against extradition. The WikiLeaks founder was attempting to appeal against a judgment by the high court in December that ruled he could be extradited after assurances from the US authorities with regard to his prison conditions there. The supreme court said that it had refused permission to appeal “as the application didn’t raise an arguable point of law”. After the decision, the case is expected to be formally sent to Priti Patel to approve the extradition.
United States (US) / China – 14 March 2022
The United States has held “intense” high-level talks with China in an effort to try to dissuade Beijing from supplying arms to Russia, at a meeting in Rome which the White House sees as critically important not just for the war in Ukraine but also for the future of the global balance of power. Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, met his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, for all-day talks in the Italian capital on Monday amid reports that Russia has asked China for weapons to bolster its faltering invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine – 15 March 2022
A pregnant woman wounded in the Russian bombing of a Ukrainian maternity hospital has died along with her baby, reports say. Images showed her on a stretcher following the air strike in Mariupol on 9 March, in which at least three other people were killed. After the place where she was meant to give birth was attacked, she was taken to another hospital. Her baby was born by Caesarean section, but showed no signs of life. The surgeon, Timur Marin, told the Associated Press news agency that the woman's pelvis had been crushed and her hip detached. Medics said that as they were trying to save her life, she realised she was losing her baby and shouted, "Kill me now!" When it became clear to them that the child was stillborn, they tried to resuscitate the mother, but realised after 30 minutes that it was hopeless. Doctors said they did not have time to take the woman's name before her husband and father came to retrieve her body.
Russia – 15 March 2022
A BBC investigation has uncovered new evidence about the corrupt deals that made Roman Abramovich's fortune. The Chelsea owner made billions after buying an oil company from the Russian government in a rigged auction in 1995. Mr. Abramovich paid around $250m (£190m) for Sibneft, before selling it back to the Russian government for $13bn in 2005. His lawyers say there is no basis for alleging he has amassed very substantial wealth through criminality. The Russian billionaire was sanctioned by the UK government because of his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Abramovich's assets have been frozen and he has been disqualified as a director of Chelsea Football Club.
Israel / Palestine – 15 March 2022
Two Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank. A 16-year-old boy was shot dead during clashes in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus, while a man in his 20s was killed in the Qalandia camp outside Jerusalem, Palestinian officials said. Israeli troops said they were attacked during raids to arrest militants. A 27-year-old Arab man was also shot dead after allegedly firing at police in the southern Israeli town of Rahat. The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned the incidents in the West Bank as extra-judicial killings that should be punished under international law.
European Court of Human Rights – 16 March 2022
Following the Resolution of the Committee of Ministers that the Russian Federation ceases to be a member of the Council of Europe as from 16 March 2022 (Resolution (CM/Res(2022)2), the European Court of Human Rights has decided to suspend the examination of all applications against the Russian Federation pending its consideration of the legal consequences of this Resolution for the work of the Court.
United States (US) / Ukraine – 16 March 2022
Two journalists working for Fox News have been killed in Ukraine, staff at the US network say. Cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, 55, and Oleksandra Kuvshinova, 24, were killed when their vehicle was struck by incoming fire in Horenka, on the outskirts of Kyiv. Their colleague, Benjamin Hall, 39, was wounded and remains in hospital. Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott said it was a "heartbreaking day" for the organisation. Ms Scott said Zakrzewski's "passion and talent as a journalist were unmatched". "Pierre was a war zone photographer who covered nearly every international story for Fox News from Iraq to Afghanistan to Syria during his long tenure with us," she said.
United Kingdom (UK) – 16 March 2022
UK intelligence services who allegedly asked the CIA to put questions to a detainee who was being tortured in “black sites” were subject to the law of England and Wales and not that of the countries in which he was being held, the court of appeal has ruled. The three appeal judges were asked to decide whether Abu Zubaydah, who was subjected to extreme mistreatment and torture at secret CIA “black sites” in six different countries, has the right to sue the UK government in England. Zubaydah claims that MI5 and MI6 committed the torts of misfeasance in public office, conspiracy to injure, trespass to the person, false imprisonment and negligence and that the defendants – the UK Foreign Office, Home Office and attorney general – are vicariously liable for their conduct.
International Court of Justice (ICJ) – 16 March 2022
The ICJ has delivered its Order on the Request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by Ukraine in the case concerning Allegations of Genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Ukraine v. Russian Federation). In its Order, the Court indicates the following provisional measures: (1) the Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced
on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine; (2) The Russian Federation shall ensure that any military or irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it, as well as any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control or direction, take no steps in furtherance of the military operations referred to in point (1) above; (3) both Parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.
Ukraine / Russia – 17 March 2022
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has compared Russia’s brutal siege of the southern city of Mariupol to that of Leningrad in the second world war, amid fresh shelling in the capital Kyiv on Thursday and anger at the Kremlin after Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin a “war criminal”. Zelenskiy said late on Wednesday: “Citizens of Russia, how is your blockade of Mariupol different from the blockade of Leningrad during world war two? … We will not forget anyone whose lives were taken by the occupiers.” Between 1941 and 1944, German forces encircled and starved Leningrad, now called St Petersburg, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Zelenskiy said it was still unclear how many had died or been injured in the airstrike on a theatre in the city where hundreds of displaced people were believed to have been sheltering. Russia has also been accused of a strike on a swimming pool where pregnant women and young children had gathered and of shelling a convoy of cars carrying civilians fleeing the city.
United Kingdom (UK) / Iran – 17 March 2022
British-Iranian nationals Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori are back in the UK after being freed from years of Iranian detention. Speaking from the airport, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the pair's release had been uncertain until the "last minute", adding that recent days had been "very emotional" for both families. Their freedom comes after the UK government settled a historical debt to Iran of almost £400m - although both countries have said the payment should not be linked to the pair's release.
United Kingdom (UK) – 17 March 2022
Victims of trafficking have secured two significant victories in the courts in separate rulings which have condemned the Home Office and the Crown Prosecution Service. In one case the police initially refused to investigate a UAE diplomat over a woman’s complaint of trafficking claiming that the suspect had diplomatic immunity, but the high court found the CPS’s decision not to prosecute unlawful. In the other, the home secretary tried to get a high court ruling from last October which granted thousands of confirmed trafficking victims leave to remain in the UK overturned. That was rejected by the court of appeal.
Russia – 18 March 2022
Eight years after Russian troops seized Ukraine's southern region of Crimea, the event is being celebrated with flag-waving crowds in Moscow's Luzhniki stadium and special lessons in schools. President Vladimir Putin made a special appearance before the crowd. State workers said they had been told to take part. In schools, teachers held lessons marking the "Crimean spring". The Russian army has used its bases in Crimea to seize towns and cities on Ukraine's south coast. Mr. Putin has regularly used the anniversary to highlight love of the motherland.
Ukraine – 18 March 2022
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that more than 450 civilians were reportedly killed or injured in the first 11 days of the war, in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, as a result of Russian airstrikes and artillery shelling of populated areas. The attacks damaged civilian buildings, including apartment blocks, schools, places of worship, and shops, impeding access to food and medicines. They also damaged infrastructure in the city causing civilians to lose vital services such as electricity, heat, and water. HRW identified Russian use of cluster munitions and explosive weapons with wide-area effect in heavily populated areas in Kharkiv, in apparent indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. Indiscriminate shelling in heavily populated areas violates international humanitarian law and may constitute a war crime.