Weekly update: 6 June – 12 June 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 6 June to 12 June 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.
United Kingdom (UK) / Ukraine – 6 June 2022
The UK Ministry of Justice has announced a second tranche of support for the international criminal court’s (ICC) investigations into war crimes in Ukraine, including the deployment of a specialist legal and police team. The package includes a police liaison officer based in The Hague to lead on information sharing between the UK and the ICC, and seven legal experts to support the ICC with expertise in international criminal law and the handling of evidence to be presented to court. The UK will also provide two police officers with expertise in the collection of intelligence through publicly available data sources, ongoing defence analysis and monitoring of events in Ukraine, as well as war crimes investigation training to Ukrainian police on behalf of the ICC, in collaboration with Norwegian police.
United Kingdom (UK) / Rwanda – 6 June 2022
The Home Office is offering to fly asylum seekers back to the conflict zones they escaped from if they do not wish to be sent to Rwanda. Documents issued to the first group of asylum seekers facing removal to the east African country state that the Home Office voluntary returns service can help them go back to their home country. The document adds: “You have the option to leave the UK voluntarily. However, should you be removed it will be to Rwanda.” All of those who face being sent to Rwanda have had their asylum claims deemed ‘inadmissible’ by the Home Office because of their method of reaching the UK – generally crossing the Channel in a dinghy. Those currently detained for offshoring include Syrians, Sudanese, Afghans, Eritreans, Iranians and Iraqis, some of whose home countries are active conflict zones.
United Kingdom (UK) – 7 June 2022
Non-fatal strangulation was made a specific offence as part of the government’s landmark Domestic Abuse Act. The practice typically involves a perpetrator strangling or intentionally affecting their victim’s ability to breathe in an attempt to control or intimidate them. It followed concerns that perpetrators were avoiding punishment as the act can often leave no visible injury, making it harder to prosecute under existing offences such as Actual Bodily Harm (ABH). Studies have shown that victims are seven times more likely to be murdered by their partner if there had been non-fatal strangulation beforehand. The new offence will also apply to British nationals abroad. It means perpetrators can be prosecuted in England and Wales for offences committed overseas – ensuring there is no escape for abusers.
Russia – 7 June 2022
European Council president Charles Michel has accused Russia of using food supplies as “a stealth missile against developing countries”, and blamed the Kremlin for the looming global food crisis, prompting Moscow’s UN ambassador to walk out of a security council meeting. Michel addressed Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia directly at a council meeting on Monday, saying he saw millions of tons of grain and wheat stuck in containers and ships at the Ukrainian port of Odesa a few weeks ago “because of Russian warships in the Black Sea”. He said Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine’s transport infrastructure and grain storage facilities, and its tanks, airstrikes and mines were preventing Ukraine from planting and harvesting. “This is driving up food prices, pushing people into poverty and destabilising entire regions,” Michel said. “Russia is solely responsible for this looming food crisis. Russia alone.”
South Africa / United Arab Emirates (UAE) – 7 June 2022
The South African government has announced that two brothers from the wealthy Gupta family have been arrested in the UAE. Atul and Rajesh Gupta are accused in South Africa of profiting from their close links with former president Jacob Zuma and exerting unfair influence. Extradition talks are taking place with the UAE, South African officials say. The brothers fled South Africa after a judicial commission began probing their involvement in corruption in 2018. They are accused of paying financial bribes in order to win lucrative state contracts and influence powerful government appointments.
United States (US) / Syria – 8 June 2022
A US woman has confessed to leading an all-female squadron for the so-called Islamic State group in Syria, as well as plotting attacks on American soil. Allison Fluke-Ekren pleaded guilty to one count of providing support to the group and admitted to training over 100 women and girls for violence. The mother and teacher-turned IS leader left the US in 2011, and worked with a terror group in Libya before Syria. She faces a maximum of 20 years in prison at her sentencing in October. While with IS, she led Khatiba Nusaybah, an all-female battalion based in its de-facto capital of Raqqa, Syria. According to officials, her primary role was to teach women and children to use weapons, ranging from AK-47 rifles and grenades to suicide vests.
United Kingdom (UK) / Rwanda – 8 June 2022
People at risk of suicide who have been threatened with deportation to Rwanda have been told to learn a musical instrument or to try sudoku instead of being offered counselling. One man, who is in his 40s and of east African descent, is being detained at Colnbrook immigration removal centre near Heathrow airport since arriving in the UK via boat in May. He has been served a notice for removal to Rwanda by the Home Office. He has been recognised as being a survivor of torture during an assessment by medical health practitioners while in detention, who have also recognised him to be at risk of self-harm or suicide due to his current and past trauma. The man is also suspected to have been a survivor of modern-day slavery and human trafficking, which he experienced prior to coming to the UK. Despite this medical assessment he underwent while in detention, he was not offered counselling. Instead, he received a handout with suggestions on “how to feel better”, which included the suggestions: “do a crossword or sudoku” and “play an instrument or learn how to play one”.
Ukraine / Russia – 9 June 2022
Two Britons and a Moroccan who were captured while fighting for Ukraine have been sentenced to death by a Russian proxy court in eastern Ukraine. Russian state media said that Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, and Brahim Saaudun, are accused of being mercenaries. The court, which is not internationally recognised, is in the pro-Russian so-called Donetsk People's Republic. The UK and Ukraine have condemned the sentences for violating international laws protecting prisoners of war. The Britons' families have insisted they are long-serving members of the Ukrainian military and not mercenaries.
Lebanon – 9 June 2022
The full scale of the rape, torture and killing of women and girls during Lebanon’s civil war has been revealed after survivors were interviewed about their experiences for the first time in over 30 years. Testimonies gathered by the human rights organisation Legal Action Worldwide (LAW), documented in a new report, provide evidence of systematic violence against Lebanese and Palestinian women and girls by government forces and militias during the 15-year war, which began in 1975. The conflict saw more than 100,000 people killed and 1 million displaced. The report details horrific experiences of violence, including gang-rape, electrocution and forced nudity used to persecute women and girls – some as young as nine – from opposing communities.
United Kingdom (UK) / Rwanda – 9 June 2022
The Law Society has defended legal challenges to the Home Office’s controversial policy of removing asylum seekers to Rwanda, saying the courts could provide the first proper scrutiny on whether the initiative is lawful. The High Court will hear an application from Detention Action, Care4Calais and the Public and Commercial Services Union for an injunction to stop the home secretary removing the first group of people next Tuesday, 14 June, under a ‘migration and economic development partnership’ with Rwanda. Lawyers representing the claimants came under fire in some parts of the media for trying to block next Tuesday’s flight. However, the Law Society said the legal challenges raise questions about the foundations of British justice.
Nigeria – 9 June 2022
Nigerian security officials suspect extremists from Islamic State’s affiliate in west Africa were behind an attack on a Catholic church last weekend that killed dozens. Forty people are now thought to have died after gunmen stormed St Francis Catholic church in Owo, Ondo State, on Sunday, and 61 survivors are still being treated in hospital, according to local authorities. The total is double an earlier estimate. Nigeria’s National Security Council said on Thursday that the attack was the work of the Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) group, apparently reinforcing fears that the militants, who have been restricted to the north-east for many years, are looking to expand their influence and reach to other parts of the country. Ondo, in the south-west, has long been considered one of the safer parts of the country.
United Kingdom (UK) – 10 June 2022
Law Commission proposals to make directors more accountable for economic crimes at the companies they oversee have been condemned as a “thundering disappointment”. MPs from the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on anti-corruption and responsible tax criticised the proposals for England and Wales, as “unambitious, uninspired and insipid”, saying the Law Commission had excluded essential changes that would have made it easier to punish companies and directors for failing to prevent money laundering.
Ukraine – 10 June 2022
A senior Ukrainian presidential aide has told the BBC that between 100 and 200 Ukrainian troops are being killed on the front line every day. Mykhaylo Podolyak said Ukraine needed hundreds of Western artillery systems to level the playing field with Russia in the eastern Donbas region. He also said Kyiv is not ready to resume peace talks with Moscow. Ukrainian troops are under relentless bombardment as Russian forces attempt to take control of the whole of Donbas.
United Kingdom (UK) / Rwanda – 10 June 2022
A high court judge has ruled that a controversial deportation flight to Rwanda that was due to take off early next week can go ahead. Mr Justice Swift refused to grant interim relief – urgent action in response to an injunction application made by several asylum seekers facing offshoring to Rwanda. Lawyers acting for the asylum seekers and the groups had argued the policy was unlawful and sought the urgent injunction to stop next week’s planned flight and any other such flights ahead of a full hearing of the case later in the year. The decision will not stop individual refugees from further legal challenges to their removal to Rwanda, or a judicial review of the policy, which Mr Justice Swift said could take six weeks. He supported submissions made by the home secretary, Priti Patel, and rejected the application to halt the Rwanda flight next Tuesday, but granted permission to the claimants to appeal – suggesting court of appeal judges would hear the case on Monday, 13 June.