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International Legal News - 11 September 2023

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 05 September to 11 September 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 nenadv@guernica37.com for consideration.



Australia - 11 September 2023


Australia: Rights at Core of Voice Referendum


Q&A on Constitutional Vote Supporting a Voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People


A referendum in Australia on October 14, 2023, is an important opportunity for Australians to enshrine a First Nations Voice in the country’s constitution, Human Rights Watch and the Australian Human Rights Institute at the University of New South Wales said today. A new Questions and Answers document addresses key questions on the Voice as they relate to the fulfilment and enjoyment of basic human rights principles.


The Voice will be a body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that will give advice to the Australian Parliament and the government on issues that affect them. It will be an advisory body with no legislative or executive power.


“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have long urged the Australian government to address the marginalization and discrimination they face, including disproportionately high rates of incarceration and other systemic socio-economic disadvantages,” said Daniela Gavshon, Australia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice is a chance for Australians to listen to First Nations people and commit to supporting their fundamental human rights.”


The full article can be found here.


Gabon - 11 September 2023


Gabon junta eyes two-year transition period before holding elections


A two-year transition before the free elections promised by Gabon's new military rulers is a "reasonable objective" the new prime minister they appointed told AFP in an interview Sunday.


"It's good to set off with a reasonable objective by saying: we have the desire to see the process come to an end in 24 months so we can go back to elections," said Raymond Ndong Sima, prime minister during the transition. That period could end up being slightly longer or shorter, he added.


Ndong Sima was appointed last week as head of the transitional government by General Brice Oligui Nguema, who led the August coup d'etat against president Ali Bongo Ondimba. The coup happened on August 30, moments after Bongo had been declared the winner of a presidential election which both the army and the opposition declared fraudulent.


The full article can be found here.


Ukraine - 11 September 2023


Russia-Ukraine war live news: Two Ukrainian drones destroyed in Belgorod


Moscow says it destroys two Ukrainian drones close to the countries’ border in its Belgorod region; no causalities are reported. Russia says President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party wins local elections in four Ukrainian regions partially occupied by Russia.


Ukraine claims limited gains on south and east fronts


Kyiv says its forces recaptured clutches of land in southern and eastern Ukraine, and fought their way into a village in the Donetsk region last week.


Ukraine launched a counteroffensive against entrenched Russian positions in June, but progress has been limited, spurring political debate in the West over support for Kyiv.


Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar said Ukrainian forces had pushed back around the war-battered city of Bakhmut in the east, which was captured by Russia in May.


Further south, Ukraine’s forces had battled their way into the village part of Opytne near the larger hub of Avdiivka, Malyar told state media.


The full article can be found here.


Mexico - 8 September 2023


Mexico’s Supreme Court Orders Federal Decriminalization of Abortion; Next Steps Include Ensuring Access


Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled this week that Congress must eliminate federal criminal penalties for abortion, which means all federal health facilities should provide abortion care, a massive victory for human rights.


This ruling, which comes after leading national reproductive justice organization GIRE (Information Group on Reproductive Choice) filed a legal challenge, requires Congress to remove abortion from the federal criminal code before the end of 2023.


The ruling also confirms what we already know: The criminalization of abortion is against human rights.


In recent years, Mexico has taken massive steps towards decriminalizing abortion, with 12 out of 32 states doing so. In most of these states, the local congress voted to decriminalize abortion by changing local legislation. For two states, the change came through a Supreme Court ruling.


Read the full article here.


Nigeria - 8 September 2023


Rivalry among Boko Haram factions compounds violence in northern Nigeria


Splits within the armed group have led to factions setting up bases across northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region.


Three years ago, Hussaini Abubakar feared the worst when armed men on motorbikes and in military camouflage stormed Damari, his village in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria. Unlike the bandits who have been troubling the region over the last decade and whose terror routines Abubakar’s community knew too well, these attackers were different.


“They were Ansaru jihadists, and some of them are Boko Haram terrorists who are previously terrorising northeastern states,” the 37-year-old farmer told Al Jazeera.


“We were honestly scared of how they were moving with sophisticated weapons, and their arrival led to clashes with bandits, which denied us [farmers] access to farms. That is why our farms remain bushy, and some farmers are migrating.”


Boko Harm, the sect officially known as Jama’at Ahl al-Sunna li-Da’wa wal-Jihad (JAS), was formed in 2002 in northeast Nigeria. Seven years later, its founder Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by security agencies, sparking an onslaught by the group that has killed thousands and displaced over 2.5 million people in a never-ending conflict.


And now splits in the group have compounded the dangers that regular people in northern Nigeria face.


The full article can be found here.


Morocco - 11 September 2023


Morocco rescuers dig with bare hands as foreign aid sent


Rescuers in Morocco have used their bare hands to dig for survivors, more than 48 hours after a powerful earthquake claimed more than 2,000 lives


Mountain villages near the epicentre lie in ruins and many local people are desperately awaiting aid


The Moroccan government says it has accepted aid from four countries so far - Britain, Spain, Qatar and the UAE


Friday's earthquake, the country's deadliest in 60 years, struck below villages in the High Atlas mountains south of Marrakesh

The full article can be found here.


Central African Republic - 8 September 2023


Rearrest Sparks Hope in Central African Republic; Abdoulaye Hissène Charged by Special Criminal Court


This week, the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in the Central African Republic announced charges against Abdoulaye Hissène for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 2017 as leader of the group Popular Front for the Rebirth of the Central African Republic (Front Populaire pour la renaissance de la République centrafricaine, FPRC).


In a country teeming with individuals implicated in war crimes, Hissène stands out. He was an early Seleka commander and a minister while the rebels held the capital, Bangui, in 2013. Later he was a leader of a splinter group headed by Noureddine Adam, who is currently a fugitive suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture, by the International Criminal Court.


Hissène’s fighters were implicated in violence across Bangui in 2015, in September and October, and in December as people voted in a constitutional referendum in the city’s PK 5 neighborhood. Human Rights Watch documented hundreds killed and thousands of homes destroyed by these fighters north of the capital from 2014 to 2017.


The full article can be found here.


Bulgaria - 8 September 2023


Court Rules Bulgaria Must Recognize Same-Sex Relationships; Couple Wed in the UK, but Bulgaria Refused to Acknowledge It


The European Court of Human Rights this week found that the government of Bulgaria was violating European human rights law by failing to legally recognize same-sex couples.


The case involved Liliya Babulkova and Darina Koilova, Bulgarian women who were legally wed in the United Kingdom in 2016. Bulgarian authorities refused to recognize their marriage, and after losing multiple appeals in the country, the couple brought the case to the European Court in 2020.


The court found that the Bulgarian government, in not recognizing the couple’s relationship, violated article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to private and family life.


The full article can be found here.


India - 8 September 2023


G20 Summit: Is India breaking up with Russia?


As Putin stays in Moscow, India-Russia ties are in decline, while New Delhi’s bond with the West gets tighter.


As Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine in February 2022, marking the start of Europe’s biggest war since World War II, countries around the world came under pressure to choose between the Western-backed Kyiv on the one hand and Moscow on the other.


For more than 18 months since then, New Delhi has managed the tightrope balance between the two sides, carefully avoiding a direct condemnation of old friend Russia. But as leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) nations arrive in the Indian capital on Friday for their annual summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi might be forced to show his hand.


The full article can be found here.

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