Weekly update: 16 January – 22 January 2023
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 16 January to 22 January 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
United Kingdom (UK) – 16 January 2023
Scotland Yard has said that a man in his 60s has been arrested on suspicion of a terror offence after traces of uranium were found at Heathrow airport at the end of December. The man was arrested after counter-terrorism officers searched an address in Cheshire on Saturday, on suspicion of an offence under section 9 of the Terrorism Act 2006, which covers the making and possession of radioactive devices. He has been released on bail until April.
Algeria – 16 January 2023
The daughter of the prominent Algerian journalist Ihsane el-Kadi has called for his immediate release from detention in a notorious prison following his arrest at midnight on Christmas Eve. Kadi, who has been a longstanding critic of the Algerian government and is one of the north African country’s most influential voices, was arrested by security forces in plain clothes at his home in the coastal city of Boumerdès, 35 miles east of Algiers, on 24 December and placed in a pre-trial detention.
Myanmar – 16 January 2023
Former top UN officials stated that Myanmar's military is producing a vast range of weapons to use against its own people thanks to supplies from companies in at least 13 countries. The US, France, India and Japan are among those named, despite Western-led sanctions intended to isolate Myanmar. The report says the home-produced arms are used to carry out atrocities against those who oppose the military. Myanmar has been engulfed in violence since a February 2021 military coup. Opponents of the coup, which ousted the elected government, have joined ethnic rebel groups in resisting military rule.
United Kingdom (UK) / Rwanda – 16 January 2023
Two judges who ruled that the Home Office’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to have their cases processed was lawful have granted permission for parts of their decision to be challenged at the court of appeal. The ruling in the high court was welcomed by those challenging the judgment of Lord Justice Lewis and Mr Justice Swift last month. In that ruling, the two judges found the Home Office’s controversial policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, including some who arrive after crossing the Channel from northern France in small boats, was lawful. The judges gave the green light for an appeal to proceed on grounds including whether the agreement drawn up between the UK and Rwandan governments to process asylum seekers in the east African country includes sufficient protection against the risk of refoulement – being forcibly removed from Rwanda to somewhere unsafe. They also found that an appeal could consider whether the Rwanda plans constitute a penalty under the refugee convention and whether the policy is systematically unfair.
United States (US) / Iran – 16 January 2023
An American-Iranian imprisoned in Iran has begun a seven-day hunger strike to protest against the failure of the US to free him and other dual nationals. Siamak Namazi appealed to President Joe Biden in an open letter to honour his government's promise to make bringing them home its highest priority.
Italy – 16 January 2023
Italy's most-wanted Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro has been arrested in Sicily after 30 years on the run. Messina Denaro was reportedly detained in a private clinic in Sicily's capital, Palermo, where he was receiving treatment for cancer. He is alleged to be a boss of the notorious Cosa Nostra Mafia and he was tried and sentenced to life in jail in absentia in 2002 over numerous murders.
Russia / Norway – 17 January 2023
An alleged former commander with the Russian mercenary Wagner Group has sought asylum in Norway, authorities say, after deserting the organisation that has played a central role in some of the major battles of the Ukraine conflict. The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) confirmed to the Associated Press that Andrey Medvedev sought shelter in the country but “for reasons of security and privacy…cannot comment further on this matter”.
Brazil – 17 January 2023
The office of Brazil’s prosecutor-general has presented its first charges against some of the thousands of people who authorities say stormed government buildings in an effort to overturn former president Jair Bolsonaro’s loss in the October election.
United Kingdom (UK) – 18 January 2023
A new criminal offence of intentionally deceiving a person into engaging in sexual activity should be created to address confusion in the law around consent, legal experts and lawyers have said. The new offence of inducing sexual activity by deception would cover both making of false representations as well as failing to disclose information. As such, it would potentially apply in future to cases such as those involving “spy cops”, in which undercover police officers adopted fake personas and conducted sexual affairs with female activists.
European Union (EU) – 18 January 2023
An alleged leader of a criminal network involved in an EU corruption scandal has agreed to reveal which countries were involved and how it operated. A lawyer for Pier Antonio Panzeri said his client had agreed to "tell all" after reaching a deal with prosecutors. The former member of the European Parliament is one of four suspects being held in Belgium. They are suspected of accepting bribes from Qatar and Morocco in return for influencing the Parliament in Brussels. Qatar has strenuously denied that it tried to gain influence through gifts and money while Morocco has also strongly rejected allegations that it sought influence on issues such as fishing rights and the disputed status of Western Sahara.
United Kingdom (UK) – 19 January 2023
A woman conceived through rape, who has campaigned for a change in the law to recognise people like herself as victims, is celebrating after achieving her goal. The government has announced that the victims’ bill will extend the definition of a “victim” to include people who are born as a result of rape. It means England and Wales will be among the first in the world to officially confer victim status to children born of rape.
Ukraine / Serbia – 19 January 2023
A Russian news video claiming to show Serbian volunteers training to fight alongside Russian troops in Ukraine has prompted outrage in Serbia, exposing its complex relationship with Moscow. Russia's Wagner mercenary group made the Serbian-language videos to encourage recruitment for the war. Serbia's president, Aleksandar Vucic, reacted angrily on national TV. Critics frequently accuse Serbia of prioritising its long-standing friendship with Russia over its ambition to join the EU.
United Kingdom (UK) – 20 January 2023
A telecoms engineer and conspiracy theorist has been jailed for six-and-a-half years for planning to launch terrorist attacks against phone mast sites. Oliver Lewin, 38, from Coalville, Leicestershire, was told he must serve two-thirds of his sentence before being able to be considered for parole.
United Kingdom (UK) / China – 21 January 2023
The World Uyghur Congress has said it is disappointed to have lost a legal challenge against UK authorities for not launching a criminal investigation into the importation of cotton products manufactured by forced labour in China’s Xinjiang province but would continue to fight for accountability.The WUC took the home secretary, HM Revenue and Customs and the National Crime Agency (NCA), to the high court, claiming an unlawful failure or refusal to investigate imports from Xinjiang, allegedly home to 380 internment camps used to detain Uyghurs and people from other Muslim minorities.
Afghanistan – 20 January 2023
A top UN official believes progress is being made towards reversing bans on women taking part in public life in Afghanistan. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has been in Kabul for a four-day visit to urge the Taliban to reconsider. Last month, the country's Islamist rulers banned all women from working for non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The move caused several aid agencies to suspended operations.
United Kingdom (UK) / Ukraine – 20 January 2023
The UK has offered qualified support for the creation of a special tribunal capable of holding the Russian civilian and military leadership, including Vladimir Putin, to account for war crimes in Ukraine. Advocates argue that a Nuremberg-style tribunal is necessary to address the specific crime of aggression, and so open a clear route for the Russian leadership to be prosecuted rather than ordinary soldiers. The UK’s support for a special tribunal was qualified in that the government said it would support a special hybrid court so long as it did not duplicate the ICC’s work. It added that the tribunal should be based on Ukrainian national justice, but contain international elements.