The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 31 October to 06 November 2023.
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.
Global/USA - 5th Nov
The biggest cryptocurrency news of the year is the recent conviction of Sam Bankman-Fried for fraud. This has left many speculating about the future of cryptocurrency in the future. Bankman-Fried was found guilty on 7 counts of wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracy last Thursday. How complicit Bankman-Fried was in the fraud is still debatable; as a defence, he says he knew next to nothing about cryptocurrency or financial regulation, allowing him to use FTX (his trading platform) to bankroll other projects in what some dubbed as the biggest fraud in modern history. The central question in the case is whether the one-time mogul "misappropriated and embezzled" his customer's money. Does this spell the end for cryptocurrency, given its recent lousy press. It would appear not, especially considering it is up by 110% from January. One thing the trial of Bankman-Fried has done is ushered in an era of crypto crackdown in the US, with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission now taking legal action against cryptocurrency operators. It would appear that cryptocurrency still has a bright future ahead of it.
China/USA - 4th Nov
The US is proposing legislation called the “Hong Kong Sanctions Act” to sanction 49 Chinese city officials for Human Rights violations and Judges in a provocative move by the House of Representatives and Senate that could derail an expected meeting between the leaders of both countries later this month at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco. Sanctions would likely seriously impede the business of many critical global firms. China has seen this as a direct and unscrupulous attack on their country. If the bill is passed, it would mandate Biden to determine within 180 days whether to impose sanctions in line with existing laws such as the “Global Magnitsky Act” and the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act”. Next year’s US presidential election will likely be seen as "who can be more tough on China" as a vote-winning device.
Turkey - 3rd Nov
Turkey is under pressure to release Political Prisoners or face prosecution of former deputies and mayors. The Erdogan government is apparently in breach of international law and the implementation of the binding judgements of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR); they would escape prosecution by immediately releasing politicians Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag, who formerly co-chaired the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) at the time.
The ECtHR determined, in 3 judgments, that their detention based on speeches and social media postings was a politically motivated move to silence them. The court found that their rights to liberty, freedom of expression, and to be elected had been violated. The facts forming the basis on which Demirtas and Yüksekdag were detained and were prosecuted in the 2021 mass trial are substantially the same as those contained in the proceedings, which the ECtHR found to be insufficient grounds for their detention. The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, responsible for overseeing member states’ implementation of ECtHR judgements, has issued 6 decisions and 2 resolutions calling on Turkey to release Demirtas from detention. At its December 5-7 session this year, the Committee of Ministers will, for the 3rd time, examine Turkey's failure to implement the judgment on Yüksekdag and release her from detention.
USA - 3rd Nov
A top Texas bankruptcy Judge called David Jones has been found to have had an undisclosed romantic relationship with a senior lawyer at a law firm (Jackson Walker); as a result, this Judge made decisions in favour of cases undertaken by this law firm. The US Department of Justice Bankruptcy Watchdog is now seeking for the law firm to give back $13 million. The watchdog explained that the relationship should have been disclosed, arguing that the system had become "significantly compromised as a result". Jones had recently announced his retirement, but not before an investigation was launched by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which filed a misconduct complaint against Jones. Jackson Walker will also have to take some responsibility for its apparent breach of Fiduciary duty to Debtor Companies Estates and Texas legal ethics rules.
UK - 2nd Nov
A new international network that focuses on “International Labour Law" has been set up called the International Labour Law Network (ILLN), and a solicitor’s firm from the East of England “Birketts” is a founding member along with law firms in Spain, Germany, Holland, France and Belgium. The idea is that international businesses can go to the network to seek guidance on international projects such as global restructuring, employee relocations and secondments and sales and acquisitions.
Yemen - 2nd Nov
9 Journalists in Yemen who have recently been granted their freedom have given accounts of being incarcerated for more than 8 years, being subjected to torture and sentenced to death; their crime was for reporting and espousing the human rights violations on the part of the Huthi authorities during the Huthi takeover in 2015.
North Korea/Japan - 1st Nov
The Tokyo High Court has ordered further investigation into the "paradise on earth" reparation program, which oversaw the migration of Japanese and ethnic Koreans to North Korea. The programme was originally designed to entice Korean residents in Japan to relocate back to North Korea. North Korea went to great lengths to present a utopian society with a good quality of life, lucrative jobs, great education and an idyllic existence. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the conditions for these people in North Korea were thought to be in extreme violation of their basic human rights. Many are trying to seek compensation and reparations from North Korea as a result of their poor treatment. This was first heard at Tokyo District Court in 2018, but this was thrown out because of the limitation expiring; however, years later, Tokyo High Court has reconsidered the original case, and decided it needs to be re-trialled. It is the first time the North Korean government has been a defendant in a court case.
Venezuela - 1st Nov
President Maduro has been thought to be repressing any dissenting parties and trying to control them socially. Thus posing an evident danger to civic space. For years, the Venezuelan government has been using stigmatisation, harassment and criminalisation of civil society and those perceived to be critical of the government. Both the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC and a UN international independent fact-finding mission have found there is reason to believe that Maduro’s government has committed Crimes against Humanity. Amnesty International has presented a report to the UN Human Rights Committee indicating that pre-election and election periods have seen spikes in repression, especially through the mechanism of political disqualification to stop political opponents from contesting elected office. Venezuela has since made no comment and shows no signs of implementing any suggestions made to improve any accusations of repression they might face.
Pakistan - 31st Oct
Pakistan is facing criticism that it is not meeting its international legal obligations to prevent the crackdown and harassment of Afghan refugees who sought refuge from the Taliban. Amnesty International is calling for the government of Pakistan to reverse its forced deportation of Afghan refugees, the deadline of which was on 1st Nov. A call has been put out for other countries to assist Pakistan financially in helping its Afghan refugee population.
Israel/Gaza - 31st Oct
The UN has suggested that there may be evidence that both sides have breached International Humanitarian Law in the Israel-Palestinian conflict since October 7th, more specifically, the protection of civilians and restrictions on the type of warfare used. This law largely stems from the 1949 Geneva Conventions after the Second World War. Israel has not ratified specific protocols in the conventions, although it could be argued that customary international law is binding on all states. NGOs have produced reports identifying that both sides have committed war crimes indiscriminately. It is thought that the ICC may intervene soon, as Palestine became a member in 2015. The ICC has had requests to investigate assaults on Gaza; although Israel is not subject to the ICC's authority, they have had strong support from the USA, which refutes claims that Israel has done anything wrong. Other countries such as South Africa, Switzerland and Lichtenstein have formerly called the ICC to become involved.