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International Legal News 12 February 2024

Updated: 5 days ago

The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 6 January to 12 February 2024.


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. 

 


North Korea – 10 February

The UN has reported that North Korea has been engaging in cyberattacks to steal $3 billion of cryptocurrency to fund its nuclear weapons program and other sanctioned activities.

The Lazarus Group, a leading hacking group, is responsible for these attacks. The stolen cryptocurrency could potentially finance the nation's intercontinental ballistic missile launches, raising concerns about regional stability and security.


Yemen – 9 February Amnesty International has called on the Huthi de facto authorities in Yemen to halt planned executions and end persecution of people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Two Huthi-run courts in Yemen sentenced over 40 individuals to death, flogging, or prison over charges related to same-sex conduct.

The Yemeni government is also being pressured to align with its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by repealing legislation criminalising same-sex intimacy and removing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.

Global – 9 February

Binance has partnered with INTERPOL to combat crypto crime and enhance cybersecurity. In 2023, Binance conducted over 120 global training sessions, empowering investigators with practical skills.

The partnership highlights the importance of collaboration between law enforcement agencies and industry experts in combating cybercrime.

Myanmar – 9 February

Fighting in Myanmar's Rakhine State has escalated, causing civilian casualties and large-scale displacement, according to Human Rights Watch. The junta and Arakan Army ethnic armed groups should take immediate measures to minimise harm to the Rohingya and other civilians caught up in the hostilities.

Since January 2024, Myanmar military forces have attacked Arakan Army fighters deployed in Rohingya villages, resulting in civilian casualties and the destruction of property. Over 100,000 people in Rakhine State, many displaced by previous violence, have again had to relocate. The junta has continued to block humanitarian aid to civilians in conflict areas, a form of collective punishment that is a war crime.

The Arakan Army has promised security to the Rohingya once they have fully captured the territory; they have sought to confiscate food and other support. The fighting near the border has spilt over into Bangladesh, including casualties from mortar fire.

Zimbabwe – 8 February

Zimbabwe's cabinet has backed the abolition of the death penalty, marking progress. Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Khanyo Farisè, praised Zimbabwe's move, stating it is "the right step towards ending this abhorrent and inhuman form of punishment."

Farisè urged Parliament to pass legislation to make the death penalty illegal, as it violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Global – 8 February

Last year was the worst on record for cryptocurrency payments received by ransomware groups. Still, the Chainalysis Crypto Crime Report for 2024 revealed that crypto criminals have broken the $1 billion barrier for ransoms paid in a single year.

Big-game hackers played a significant role in increasing ransom demands, but the trend for ransomware payments since 2019 is expected to continue. The report suggests that targeting smaller organisations with smaller ransoms can become a force multiplier, with the bottom line being more significant due to the loss of productivity, assets, data, and recovery costs.

Egypt – 8 February       

An Egyptian court sentenced prominent politician Ahmed Tantawy to a year in prison for alleged offences related to his presidential challenge to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The court also barred Tantawy from running for national elections for five years. Tantawy and his aide, Mohamed Abu al-Dyar, were released on bail pending appeal.

Human Rights Watch argues that the charges against Tantawy and his supporters are retaliation for his peaceful campaign to challenge President Sisi. The court ordered Tantawy and his supporters to pay 20,000 Egyptian pounds each to avoid detention pending their appeal.

India – 7 February

Amnesty International has documented the unlawful demolition of Muslim properties in India using JCB bulldozers and other machinery. The demolitions are carried out with widespread impunity, often under the guise of resolving illegal construction.

The Indian Government and state legislatures are also facing pressure to halt the policy, ensure no one is made homeless, offer adequate compensation, and hold those responsible accountable. The demolitions are often instigated at the highest levels of government and are often called "bulldozer justice."

EU/Palestine – 7 February

The European Union (EU) and its member states are urged to restore and continue funding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). UNRWA, created in 1949, provides direct humanitarian assistance and human development programming for over 5.9 million Palestinian refugees living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Since the start of the current round of hostilities in Gaza, UNRWA and other humanitarian organisations have been operating under enormous duress. The UN has terminated the contracts of alleged employees involved in the October 7 attacks, and the UN Secretary-General confirmed the independence of the UN inquiry into the allegations.

However, some EU member states have announced halting their funding to UNRWA following the landmark ruling by the ICJ in the case brought by South Africa against Israel for alleged violation of the UN Genocide Convention. The EU is also concerned about the longer-term implications shutting down UNRWA would have, especially on the right of Palestinian refugees to return.      

Azerbaijan – 6 February

Azerbaijan's authorities are escalating their crackdown on freedom of expression, targeting critical voices and freezing their assets. Since November 2023, the authorities have arrested over 13 individuals, including journalists, political opponents, and a human rights defender. At least 11 remain in arbitrary detention on spurious charges.

The authorities have also targeted their relatives and families, freezing their bank accounts and financial assets. This repression is in direct violation of Azerbaijan's international human rights obligations. International organisations urge the authorities to cease the persecution of independent journalists, activists, political opponents, human rights defenders, and their families to restore their human rights and end retaliatory tactics.

Colombia – 6 February

Colombia's deputy Prosecutor General Martha Mancera is protecting a prosecution executive accused of drug trafficking, Francisco Javier Martinez, also known as "Pacho Malo." Martinez, the former director of the Technical Investigations Unit (CTI), is accused of narco-trafficking. Three undercover agents discovered Malo's involvement in the drug trade, and he offered his services in smuggling cocaine shipments.

After Herrera's assassination, his colleagues Fabio Gonzalez and Pablo Bolaños escaped. Mancera appointed notorious prosecutor Daniel Hernandez to investigate Gonzalez and Bolaños. Mancera pressured subordinates to remove Malo's name from the report, which was leaked to Raya.

The prosecution has since shelved the investigation into Mancera's cover-up, falsely claiming there was no evidence of a crime, despite internal reports suggesting otherwise and evidence of doctoring reports by high-level officials within the AG's office. 

Jordan – 6 February

Jordanian authorities have arrested and harassed numerous pro-Palestine protesters and online advocates since October 2023, bringing charges under a criticised cybercrime law.

Human Rights Watch documented cases where activists were charged under the law, undermining free speech, threatening anonymity, and introducing a new authority to control social media.

Detainees face charges for posting critical content on social media, but many are re-apprehended or kept in custody using abusive administrative procedures. Jordan's prime minister claims no arrests have occurred for practising the right to peaceful expression.

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