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International Legal News

Weekly update: 30 January – 5 February 2023

The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 30 January to 5 February 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 for consideration.

Turkey – 30 January 2023

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said for the first time that Ankara could accept Finland into Nato without its Nordic neighbour Sweden. Erdoğan’s comments during a televised meeting with younger voters came days after Ankara suspended Nato accession talks with the two countries. Its decision threatened to derail Nato’s hopes of expanding the bloc to 32 countries at a summit planned for July in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. Finland and Sweden dropped decades of military non-alignment and applied to join the defence alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine / France – 30 January 2023

A Ukrainian man has gone on trial in France accused of masterminding the theft of a €1.5m (£1.3m) painting discovered in a house in Kyiv a year after it disappeared from a museum in Nancy. The work by Paul Signac, Le Port de La Rochelle, went missing from the Musée de Beaux-Arts in Nancy, north-east France, in 2018. Museum staff were stunned to discover an empty frame on the wall after three people removed the canvas with a box-cutter, rolled it up and walked out of the museum with it hidden under a raincoat one of them was wearing.

United Kingdom (UK) – 31 January 2023

None of the senior police officers in charge of long-term operations to infiltrate leftwing groups in the 1960s and 1970s examined whether the intrusive surveillance was justified, a public inquiry has found. The inquiry – headed by a retired judge – added that there was a strong case for concluding that a covert Metropolitan police unit that sent long-term undercover officers to infiltrate political groups should have been disbanded decades before it was. The covert operations failed to comply with the state’s own justification for spying on political activists, the inquiry also found in a new analysis.

United Kingdom (UK) / Saudi Arabia – 31 January 2023

Anti-arms trade campaigners will seek to overturn a decision made by Liz Truss to resume UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, arguing she ignored a pattern of bombing civilians by the country’s air force in Yemen. A judicial review brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) starts in the high court on 31 January, the latest step in a long-running battle over the legality of a lucrative trade worth more than £23bn since the war in Yemen began.

Ukraine – 31 January 2023

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has helped “open eyes” to the idea of reforming England’s increasingly draconian libel and privacy laws, according to one of the country’s leading media advocates. Geoffrey Robertson KC, author of a new book on efforts by the rich and powerful to suppress free speech, Lawfare, said the war revealed the cynical way wealthy Russians – and others – have exploited the English legal system.

United States (US) / Russia – 31 January 2023

The United States has accused Russia of violating the New Start treaty, the last major pillar of post-Cold War nuclear arms control between the two countries, saying Moscow was refusing to allow inspection activities on its territory. The treaty came into force in 2011 and was extended in 2021 for five more years. It caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy, and the deployment of land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.

Italy – 1 February 2023

A convicted Italian anarchist who has been on hunger strike for weeks has been moved to a jail in Milan amid growing fears his health is worsening. Supporters of Alfredo Cospito, 55, have torched cars and threatened officials in protest at his jail conditions. Cospito has been refusing food for more than 100 days. The new restrictions, usually reserved for mafia bosses, include one monitored visit from family members and one telephone call a month. The measures, known as 41bis after an article of the Italian criminal code, were introduced in their current form in 1992, after the mafia killings of judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, and were originally meant to cut off Mafia bosses from the outside world and other inmates, and to prevent them from ordering criminal acts from behind bars. Now, however, the 41bis prison regime can be imparted on people who have been found guilty of crimes ranging from terrorism to tobacco smuggling and kidnapping.

Haiti – 1 February 2023

Three Haitian Americans and a Colombian have been charged in the US over the assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Seven people in total have now been charged in the US. His death in his private residence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, plunged the country, already suffering from rising violence and an economic crisis made worse by natural disasters, into further turmoil. Police say a group of mercenaries, most of them Colombians, was behind the attack, which they suspect a Haitian doctor of ordering as part of a plot to become president.

Nigeria – 2 February 2023

Nearly 14,000 people from two Nigerian communities are seeking justice in the high court in London against the fossil fuel giant Shell, claiming it is responsible for devastating pollution of their water sources and destruction of their way of life.

Central African Republic (CAR) – 2 February 2023

Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group have sustained heavy casualties in a new surge of fighting between government troops and rebels over the control of lucrative goldmines in Central African Republic (CAR). The clashes come amid increasing instability in the anarchic, resource-rich country, which in recent years has become one of Russia’s main hubs of influence in sub-Saharan Africa. The government offensive is led by some of the estimated 1,000 Wagner fighters stationed in CAR since 2018.

Italy – 3 February 2023

A convicted Italian killer, believed to belong to one of the country’s most powerful mafia organisations, has been discovered working as a pizza chef and arrested after 16 years on the run. Edgardo Greco, 63, is suspected of belonging to the notorious ’Ndrangheta, a powerful mafia organisation in Calabria, southern Italy. Interpol said he was arrested in the French city of Saint-Etienne, where he had at one point run an Italian restaurant under an alias, according to French prosecutors.

Bangladesh – 3 February 2023

Bangladesh authorities should investigate recent allegations of enforced disappearances and torture including by members of the police Detective Branch. Violent protests broke out on 19 January in Gazipur after Mohammad Rabiul Islam, a 38-year-old shopkeeper, died in police custody allegedly due to torture, although the police said he had been hit by a truck. On 29 January, Abu Hossain Rajon, a lawyer, alleged that he was detained for a week at Hartijheel police station, but was taken to Detective Branch headquarters every day where he said he was tortured and interrogated. The police, however, denied he had been arrested. Allegations of torture in Bangladesh are rarely investigated or prosecuted. Following a review in July 2019, the UN Committee against Torture described the Bangladesh police as a “state within a state,” asserting that “in general, one got the impression that the police, as well as other law enforcement agencies, were able to operate with impunity and zero accountability.”


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