Weekly update: 18 July – 24 July 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 18 July to 24 July 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) – 18 July 2022
Barristers are heading to parliament as they begin their first whole week of strike action over levels of legal aid funding they say are bringing the criminal justice system to its knees. Members of the Criminal Bar Association, which represents advocates in England and Wales, began action with a two-day strike at the end of last month and have been escalating it by an extra day every week. If a deal is not agreed with the government criminal barristers will stage five-day walkouts every other week from now on.
United Kingdom (UK) – 18 July 2022
A new forensic investigation is under way into a rape case that led to a man spending 17 years in prison after DNA linked another unknown male to the crime. Andrew Malkinson was convicted of raping a 33-year-old woman by a motorway in Greater Manchester in 2003. There was never any DNA evidence against him and he always insisted he was innocent, spending a decade longer in prison as a result. The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates potential miscarriages of justice, has now commissioned its own forensic inquiries into the case. It comes after Malkinson’s legal team discovered evidence that there was another man’s DNA on key samples taken from the victim.
Belarus – 19 July 2022
Last week, a court in Homieĺ, Belarus, found journalist Katsiaryna Andreyeva guilty of “high treason.” She is already serving a two-year sentence on bogus charges, and the new verdict increased her total sentence to eight years and three months. In February 2021, a district court in Minsk sentenced Katsiaryna and her colleague Daria Chultsova to two years in prison for “organizing activities violating public order.” The charges came after the two women live-streamed from a November 2020 mass protest that was violently dispersed by law enforcement. Katsiaryna and Daria worked for Belsat, a Poland-based broadcaster, long targeted by Belarusian authorities. In April 2022, five months before Katsiaryna’s sentence was to be completed, authorities indicted her with the new charges of “high treason.” Belarusian authorities conducted the investigation into her case in an atmosphere of secrecy, with court hearings taking place behind closed doors.
United Kingdom (UK) / Rwanda – 19 July 2022
The Home Office pushed through its policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda despite repeated concerns from UK government officials, it has emerged from documents submitted to a high court hearing. The government disclosed the documents, which raise numerous concerns about the Rwanda plans, ahead of a full hearing later this year into the lawfulness of the policy.
United Kingdom (UK) / Russia – 20 July 2022
Courts in England and Wales are to be granted new powers to dismiss lawsuits employed by wealthy claimants to stifle free speech, the government has said. The justice secretary, Dominic Raab, announced proposals on Wednesday for a three-stage test to tackle at an early stage intimidatory legal actions against reporters and publishers, known as strategic lawsuits against public participation, or Slapps. Slapps have come under the spotlight with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and allegations that oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin are using expensive litigation in UK courts to shut down criticism and deter investigations into their affairs.
Sri Lanka – 20 July 2022
A group of human rights experts stated in an appeal to the international community that greater support must be given to Sri Lanka as the country faces economic crisis and political turmoil. The nine experts expressed alarm over record high inflation, rising commodity prices, power shortages, a crippling fuel crisis and economic collapse, as the country grapples with unprecedented political turmoil.
Russia / Ukraine – 21 July 2022
Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and UN Secretary-General António Guterres will sign a deal on 22 July to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office has said. Russia and Ukraine are both major global wheat suppliers, but Moscow’s February 24 invasion of its neighbour has sent food prices soaring and stoked an international food crisis. The war has stalled Kyiv’s exports, leaving dozens of ships stranded and some 20 million tonnes of grain stuck in silos at Odesa port. Ankara said a general agreement was reached on a UN-led plan during talks in Istanbul last week and that it would now be put in writing by the parties. Details of the agreement were not immediately known.
United Kingdom (UK) – 21 July 2022
Britain’s most senior anti-bribery prosecutor has been personally criticised in an independent review that examined flaws in a major corruption trial. Lisa Osofsky, the director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), was judged to have made a “number of mistakes and misjudgments” in her handling of a prosecution which has ultimately resulted in the convictions of two businessmen being overturned. The attorney general, Suella Braverman, commissioned Calvert-Smith to examine how and why court of appeal judges had quashed the businessmen’s bribery convictions after they concluded that the SFO had failed to hand over vital evidence. The businessmen – Ziad Akle and Paul Bond – had been jailed for their roles in a corrupt scheme run by a consultancy, Unaoil, that paid huge bribes to land commercial contracts around the world for years.
Iran / United Kingdom (UK) – 21 July 2022
The Foreign Office has failed to impose sanctions on key Iranians responsible for the arrest and intimidation of the British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe despite having been passed their names in September, MPs have claimed.
Unites States (US) – 22 July 2022
The supreme court will not allow the Biden administration to implement an immigration policy that prioritises deportation of people arriving in the US illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk. The court’s order late on Thursday leaves the policy frozen nationwide for now. The vote was 5-4, with conservative Amy Coney Barrett joining liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and newcomer to the bench Ketanji Brown Jackson in saying they would have allowed the Biden administration to put in place the guidance.
Netherlands – 22 July 2022
Plans to house refugees arriving in the Netherlands on cruise ships have been described as “absurd” and illegal, as the Dutch government laid out its solution to overcrowded asylum centres. Officials are also examining how they can allow refugees free movement on and off the ships in order to avoid claims that those onboard are being illegally held captive by the state. The move is said to be necessary due to the lack of space in refugee centres in light of the large number of Ukrainians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s war.
Syria – 22 July 2022
A former Irish Defence Forces soldier who was found guilty of Islamic State (IS) membership has been given a 15-month prison sentence. Lisa Smith was found guilty in May of being a member of the group between 28 October 2015 and 1 December 2019. The court found her not guilty of financing terrorism by sending money to a man for the benefit the terrorist group. She was sentenced at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. The judge, Mr Justice Hunt, said it was serious for any Irish citizen and a former member of the defence forces to pledge allegiance to a foreign terrorist organisation. He said there was no doubt that she knew what she was doing. But he said he and the court took into account her previous good behaviour and that she had a hard time in Syria and suffered from domestic violence.
United Nations (UN) – 22 July 2022
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, at the signing ceremony in Istanbul, that an “unprecedented agreement” on the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea amid the ongoing war is “a beacon of hope” in a world that desperately needs it. The UN plan, which also paves the way for Russian food and fertilizer to reach global markets, will help to stabilize spiralling food prices worldwide and stave off famine, affecting millions.