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International Legal News - 21 August 2023

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 14 August to 20 August 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.

Bangladesh - 20 August 2023

Hundreds injured after Bangladesh police clash with opposition activists

Officers say they were forced to take action after demonstrators suddenly attacked them while trying to break through a barricade. Police in northeastern Bangladesh used batons and tear gas to disperse opposition activists amid a political dispute over who will oversee the next election.

About 300 people were injured in the clash on Saturday evening, including some from live fire, the country’s leading Bengali-language newspaper Prothom Alo reported on Sunday.

The full article can be found here.

Saudi Arabia/Yemen - 21 August 2023

Saudi Arabia: Mass Killings of Migrants at Yemen Border

Systematic Abuses of Ethiopians May Amount to Crimes Against Humanity

Saudi border guards have killed at least hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers who tried to cross the Yemen-Saudi border between March 2022 and June 2023, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. If committed as part of a Saudi government policy to murder migrants, these killings, which appear to continue, would be a crime against humanity.

The 73-page report, “‘They Fired on Us Like Rain’: Saudi Arabian Mass Killings of Ethiopian Migrants at the Yemen-Saudi Border,” found that Saudi border guards have used explosive weapons to kill many migrants and shot other migrants at close range, including many women and children, in a widespread and systematic pattern of attacks. In some instances, Saudi border guards asked migrants what limb to shoot, and then shot them at close range. Saudi border guards also fired explosive weapons at migrants who were attempting to flee back to Yemen.

“Saudi officials are killing hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers in this remote border area out of view of the rest of the world,” said Nadia Hardman, refugee and migrant rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Spending billions buying up professional golf, football clubs, and major entertainment events to improve the Saudi image should not deflect attention from these horrendous crimes.” The full article can be found here.

Afghanistan - 16 August 2023

Bread, Work, Freedom—Afghan Women's Two Years of Resistance

It's hard to believe that two years have already gone by since the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

Time is not linear; for women and girls in Afghanistan, it has been two long years of constant loss, and two full years of fighting back using the few resources left to combat the Taliban's ruthless misogyny. For women, this includes taking their bodies to the streets to resist and using their voices to chant. In the face of brutal Taliban reprisals, they have adopted new forms of resistance, such as leading movements and protests from inside their homes to raise international awareness. Two years have passed since activists first began chanting, "Bread, Work, Freedom," a message that carries the seemingly simple yet sophisticated message that has come to define their movement.

There are multiple ways to read the past two years. While the Taliban's ongoing and intensifying oppression cannot be forgotten for a moment, one narrative that stands out is the defiance against the Taliban's efforts to confine Afghan women and girls to their homes. The Taliban seek to literally erase women from public life and make the oppression of women a personal matter, off limits to any intervention from the rest of the world. However, the women who continue to protest teach us that the personal is indeed political, and that the Taliban's oppression of women will not be tolerated as a private matter. Read the full article here.

Israel/Palestine - 21 August 2023

One Israeli dead, one wounded in shooting near Hebron

Israeli army has set up roadblocks around Hebron, questioning all Palestinians as manhunt for shooter launched.

An Israeli woman has died and a man has been seriously wounded in a shooting near the city of Hebron in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

Israeli first responders and soldiers administered CPR at the scene but failed to revive a 40-year-old woman who has not been identified yet, local media reported. Reports also indicate that a young girl, the woman’s daughter, was present at the scene but was unharmed. The full article can be found here.

Pakistan - 21 August 2023

Pakistan president denies approving laws giving military more power

Pakistan's President Arif Alvi denied approving two controversial bills which further enhance the military's powers. In a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Sunday, he said he returned the bills unsigned but his staff "undermined my will”.

The two laws make it an offence to reveal the identities of military intelligence officers and also propose jail terms for defaming the army. Mr Alvi's statement could call the legality of the two laws into question. However, Pakistan's interim law minister Ahmed Irfan Aslam told reporters that under the constitution, the president had the option of either giving assent to the bills, or referring them to parliament with "specific observations”.

Instead, Dr Alvi "purposely delayed the assent", and returned the bills with neither assent nor observations, he said. Mr Aslam added that since the signed bills were not received from the president even after 10 days, they automatically became law. A gazette from the Senate Secretariat stated that they were "deemed to have been assented to by the president”. The full article can be found here.

South Africa - 21 August 2023

South Africa won’t be bullied to side with global powers, says Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa was speaking in a televised address before the BRICS summit which begins Tuesday in Johannesburg.

South Africa will not be forced to side with any global powers, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday as he readied to host a summit of major emerging economies. The meeting in Johannesburg this week of BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — will seek to widen their influence and push for a shift in global geopolitics.

South Africa’s hosting of the summit has turned a spotlight on its ties with the Kremlin, especially as it has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “While some of our detractors prefer overt support for their political and ideological choices, we will not be drawn into a contest between global powers,” Ramaphosa said in a televised State of the Nation address. “We have resisted pressure to align ourselves with any one of the global powers or with influential blocs of nations,” he said. The full article can be found here.

Iran - 21 August 2023

Iran: Respect families’ right to commemorate loved ones killed during uprising without reprisals on one-year anniversary

The families of those unlawfully killed by Iran’s security forces during the “Woman Life Freedom” uprising in 2022 must be allowed to mark the one-year anniversaries of their deaths, Amnesty International said today, as the Iranian authorities ramp up their campaign of persecution and intimidation against victims’ families to enforce silence and impunity.

In new research published today, Amnesty International details how the Iranian authorities have been subjecting victims’ families to arbitrary arrest and detention, imposing cruel restrictions on peaceful gatherings at grave sites, and destroying victims’ gravestones. Not a single official has been held to account for the unlawful killing of hundreds of men, women and children by security forces during the authorities’ brutal crackdown on the popular uprising that engulfed Iran following the death in custody of Mahsa/Zhina Amini on 16 September 2022. Amnesty International considers the mental pain and anguish inflicted on mourning families by the authorities’ abusive practices to be a violation of the absolute prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under international law.

“The cruelty of the Iranian authorities knows no bounds. In their sinister attempt to cover up their crimes, the authorities are compounding the anguish and suffering of victims’ families by preventing them from demanding justice, truth and reparation or even planting flowers at their loved ones’ graves. As the anniversary of the uprising nears, victims’ families fear that the authorities will deploy their usual repressive tactics to bar them from holding commemorations,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. The full article can be found here.

Global - 16 August 2023

Global: Ruling in favor of activists in US climate lawsuit sets historic human rights-based precedent

Responding to a court ruling in favor of a group of young activists who accused officials in the US state of Montana of violating their rights under the state constitution to a clean and healthful environment by supporting pro-fossil fuel policies, Marta Schaaf, Amnesty International’s Director of Climate, Economic and Social Justice, and Corporate Accountability Programme, said:

“This is an historic ruling demonstrating the vital importance of youth activism in pushing for the change we need to avert a growing climate catastrophe and will help drive forward climate justice.

“The plaintiffs were represented by the visionary non-profit law firm, Our Children’s Trust, and the ruling is an important victory in efforts to save the planet from the devastating effects of the climate emergency caused by the use of fossil fuels. It demonstrates once again that the climate crisis is a human rights crisis and that everyone has a right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Human rights are inextricably linked with climate and ecological stability. The full article can be found here.


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