Weekly update: 4 April – 10 April 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 4 April to 10 April 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.
Russia / Ukraine – 4 April 2022
Ukraine has accused Russian forces of committing war crimes and a “massacre” in Bucha after the bodies of unarmed Ukrainian civilians and mass graves were found on 3 April. Bodies of civilians – many with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture – were found on the streets after Ukrainian troops reclaimed the town 18 miles north-west of the capital, Kyiv. Joe Biden called for Vladimir Putin to be tried for war crimes and said he would seek more sanctions after reported atrocities in Ukraine. The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the EU was ready to send joint investigations teams to Ukraine to document the alleged Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Jordan – 4 April 2022
Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the former heir to the throne of Jordan, said that he is renouncing his title of prince. Prince Hamzah said his "personal convictions" were not in line with the "modern methods of our institutions". He was put under house arrest last year after accusing the country's leaders of corruption, incompetence and harassment.
Ukraine / United States (US) – 5 April 2022
US President Joe Biden has called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be tried for war crimes as evidence emerges of atrocities allegedly committed by Russian forces in Ukraine. There is mounting international anger over the alleged killing of civilians in Bucha, a town near the capital Kyiv. Russia claims that no civilians suffered under the Russian occupation of Bucha and says footage and photos from the city were staged. But the timing of these satellite images appears to disprove the idea that the bodies only appeared after Russian soldiers left.
International Criminal Court (ICC) – 5 April 2022
A former militia leader in Sudan has denied committing war crimes and crimes against humanity as his landmark hearing opened at the ICC. Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman is accused of leading thousands of pro-government fighters on a systematic campaign of murder, rape and torture during the height of violence in the Darfur region of Sudan between 2003 and 2004. The trial is the first at the ICC to deal with the Darfur conflict, and campaigners have said it shows that no impunity exists even for crimes committed nearly two decades ago.
Mali – 5 April 2022
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that suspected Russian mercenaries participated in an operation with Mali’s army in March in which about 300 civilian men were allegedly executed over five days. Eyewitnesses and local community leaders said hundreds of men were rounded up and killed in small groups during the anti-jihadist operation on 23 March in the central town of Moura. Local security sources told HRW that more than 100 Russian-speaking men were allegedly involved in the operation, which HRW described as the worst single atrocity reported in Mali’s decade-long armed conflict. Witnesses spoke of white soldiers talking in an unfamiliar foreign language they believed to be Russian.
Ethiopia – 6 April 2022
According to a joint report by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Ethiopian paramilitaries have carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes using threats, killings and sexual violence. The rights groups accuse officials and paramilitaries from the neighbouring Amhara region of war crimes and crimes against humanity in western Tigray, in northern Ethiopia. Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said the level of abuse of civilians had not been taken seriously enough internationally.
United Nations (UN) – 7 April 2022
Russia has been suspended from the United Nations’ leading human rights body as its invasion of Ukraine continues to provoke revulsion and outrage around the world. At a meeting of the UN General Assembly, 93 members voted in favour of the diplomatic rebuke while 24 were against and 58 abstained.
Russia is the first permanent member of the UN Security Council to have its membership revoked from any UN body. It is also only the second country to have its membership rights stripped at the Human Rights Council, which was established in 2006. The assembly suspended Libya in 2011 when upheaval in the north African country toppled its longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.
United Kingdom (UK) – 7 April 2022
The BBC has been banned from identifying a “dangerous extremist and misogynist” who is allegedly an MI5 informant, after a high court judge granted an injunction. The attorney general, Suella Braverman, successfully blocked the identification of the alleged informant, or covert human intelligence source (Chis), referred to as X throughout the proceedings. Mr Justice Chamberlain said the evidence he had seen, in open court and in closed hearings, had convinced him the injunction was necessary.
Yemen – 7 April 2022
Yemen's president has sacked his deputy and transferred power to a leadership council in a major shake-up of the Saudi-backed coalition fighting Houthi rebels in the country's civil war. Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi announced that the eight-member council would be led by former minister Rashad al-Alimi. He tasked it with negotiating with the Houthis to agree a permanent ceasefire and a political solution to the war.
United States (US) – 7 April 2022
Ketanji Brown Jackson has been confirmed as the first black woman to sit on the US Supreme Court in its 233-year history. Judge Jackson, 51, will also be the first former public defender to sit on the Supreme Court and the third black judge to sit. The African-American judge was nominated by US President Joe Biden in February, to replace liberal Justice Stephen Breyer.
Syria – 8 April 2022
According to a rights group, more than $1.5bn (£1.2bn) worth of personal property including cars, olive groves, shops, houses, electronics and jewellery has been seized by the Syrian government from citizens accused of joining anti-government protests. The Association of Detainees and the Missing in Sednaya Prison (ADMSP) estimates that almost 40% of those detained after the Syrian uprising of 2011 were subject to property seizures.
United Kingdom (UK) – 8 April 2022
Koci Selamaj has been jailed for life at the Old Bailey with a minimum term of 36 years for the murder of the primary school teacher Sabina Nessa. Sentencing Selamaj, 36, Mr Justice Sweeney said Nessa was the “wholly blameless victim of an absolutely appalling murder which was entirely the fault of the defendant”.
The prosecutor, Alison Morgan QC, said the attack was “premeditated, not in the sense that he targeted Sabina Nessa but because it targeted any lone female”.