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International Legal News - 3 January 2024

The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 28 December 2023 to 03 January 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 for consideration.

South Korea – 2 January

The head of the South Korean opposition Democratic Party, Lee Jae-Myung, was attacked with a knife by an individual who approached him requesting his autograph, resulting in a stab wound to the neck. Lee, who is 59 years old, was urgently transported to hospital and underwent surgery. Subsequently, he has regained consciousness and was placed in critical care.

The assault took place in Busan, South Korea, while Lee was visiting the location of a planned new airport and engaging in conversations with journalists and supporters. The perpetrator, donning a paper crown with Lee's name, approached Lee, solicited his autograph, and subsequently thrust forward, inflicting a stab wound to his neck. After obtaining urgent medical care in Busan, Lee was transported by air to Seoul and had a two-hour surgical procedure at the Seoul National University Hospital.

The motivation is under investigation. President Yoon Suk Yeol denounced the attack as an act of "political terrorism." Despite stringent prohibitions on gun possession, South Korea has a history of political violence, and political leaders are typically not subject to extensive security protection. Song Young-Gil, who held the position before Lee, was injured in 2022 when an attacker struck his head with a blunt object.

UN/Lebanon – 1 January

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was created to probe the 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, has been formally concluded by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The Tribunal, created under UN Security Council Resolution 1757, possessed authority over those accountable for the assault and could broaden its jurisdiction to encompass associated incidents throughout Lebanon from October 1, 2004, to December 12, 2005.

The Office of the Prosecutor was required to present prima facie evidence to establish jurisdiction. As of July 1, 2022, the tribunal entered a residual phase, mainly involving safeguarding documents, meeting obligations towards victims and witnesses, and addressing information demands from national agencies.

The tribunal's trial paperwork comprised affidavits from 297 witnesses and 3,135 exhibits, totalling 171,000 pages. The tribunal's website summarised the 2,641-page ruling in Arabic, English, and French to improve public accessibility.

Chad – 1 January

Succes Masra, a prominent figure in the Chadian opposition, has been designated as the country's Prime Minister of the transitional administration due to an agreement with the junta. Masra, an ardent adversary of the military regime, departed the country after the repressive actions taken by security forces against protests in N'Djamena in October 2022.

Following his departure, the government issued an international arrest order for him. However, in late October, an agreement was reached between the government and Masra, permitting his return. His appointment was announced through a decree read on national television.


Albania – 31 December

Former Prime Minister Sali Berisha, who has been accused of passive corruption, has been placed under house arrest by the Albanian Special Court of First Instance for Corruption and Organised Crimes. The ruling was rendered under Article 237 of the Criminal Code, which replaced a prior directive mandating Berisha's presence before the police under coercive personal security measures. If Berisha is found guilty of corruption, he may be sentenced to 12 years.

Berisha is accused of leveraging his position as Prime Minister to illicitly influence high-ranking officials to facilitate the privatisation of a government-owned sports complex for the benefit of his son-in-law, Jamarber Malltezi. In 2021, Berisha was prohibited from entering the United States due to his involvement in "corrupt acts." On Facebook, he responded to the court's ruling by condemning the act of isolating and suppressing the freedom of speech. He described the verdict as an instance of "uninformed political retaliation." He levied allegations against the incumbent prime minister, Edi Rama, asserting that he had dismantled pluralism and instituted an exceedingly corrupt autocratic system, surpassing even those in Europe and other regions.

Democratic Party members have assembled outside Berisha's mansion in response to his house arrest, with vice-president Luciano Boci urging Albanians to support the reinstatement of political pluralism. Each party has five days to lodge an appeal to the Special Court of Appeal for Corruption and Organised Crimes against the verdict.

Democratic Republic of Congo – 31 December

Felix Tshisekedi, the President of Congo, has been officially announced as the victor of a highly contested election, pledging to cater to the needs of a population of 100 million individuals. Nevertheless, opposition leaders level allegations of electoral fraud and political persecution against him, which may cast a shadow over his second term. Tshisekedi called for solidarity and underscored the need to generate employment, ensure security, and foster a more varied economy.

The election established the conditions for a highly charged political impasse that might have significant consequences on the global stage. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the leading global provider of cobalt and ranks as the third-largest producer of copper. Tshisekedi's campaign for re-election prioritised strengthening achievements and fulfilling commitments to reverse autocratic governance, eradicate corruption, revive the economy, address disparities, and address the enduring security problem in the Eastern region.

Tshisekedi was accused by critics of suppressing opposition, prompting nine opposing presidential contenders to call for demonstrations. During Tshisekedi's tenure, there was an increase in economic growth; however, most of Congo's population, which accounts for 62%, continued to live on less than one dollar a day with minimal improvement in their living conditions.

Canada – 30 December

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada, Marc Miller, has declared the establishment of a family-oriented humanitarian route that permits both Sudanese and non-Sudanese individuals to be permanently reunited with their families in Canada. The pathway enables the reunion of Canadian citizens or permanent residents with their extended family members, under the condition that the latter were residing in Sudan at the onset of the crisis on April 15, 2023.

The continuous hostilities between the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Armed Forces have worsened since April 15th, with the UN Refugee Agency predicting that the number of people seeking refuge will exceed one million sooner than previously anticipated. From December 15 onwards, the city of Wad Madani, which is the second-largest city in Sudan, has experienced extensive acts of killing, injuring, and capturing of civilians. As a result, a minimum of 250,000 individuals have been forced to leave their homes.

Canada has designated more than $165 million in humanitarian aid financing to competent partners in Sudan and adjacent nations impacted by the situation. Miller voiced profound apprehensions regarding the persistent wars and humanitarian crises in Sudan and committed to assisting those who need aid.

Niger/Burkina Faso/Mali – 30 December

The Prime Ministers of Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali have committed to collaborating as part of an alliance that has separated them from the larger West African political grouping following their coups. The three states, governed by military officials who have taken control through coups since 2020, have conflicted with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), encouraging them to reinstate democratic governance.

Prime Minister Joachim Kyelem de Tambela of Burkina Faso emphasised that they share a common fate and are progressing together. The juntas have also terminated longstanding military connections with former colonial power France, impacting France's influence in the region and adding complexity to international endeavours to suppress a ten-year-old Islamist uprising. The three countries have established the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) to strengthen their security, political, and economic cooperation, demonstrating their independence from France and ECOWAS.

According to Malian Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, the cooperation between their military has achieved a remarkably advanced degree of integration. The Prime Minister of Niger, Ali Lamine Zeine, declared that all forthcoming collaboration would be conducted trilaterally, with unified joint committees encompassing all three nations.


Iran – 29 December

On Friday, Iran executed four individuals, one of whom was a woman, on charges of working with Israel's Mossad spy agency. The group, consisting of Vafa Henareh, Aram Omari, Rahman Parehzou, and Nasim Namazi, apparently partook in activities such as kidnapping, intimidation, and setting fire to property after obtaining monetary compensation from Mossad.

The Supreme Court of Iran has confirmed the death penalty for the influential individuals who were found guilty, while others have been sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. The execution of Hamidreza Azari, aged 17, and Milad Zohrevand, aged 22, by Iran on November 24 was condemned by Human Rights groups. This act violated international accords that ban the killing of anyone under the age of 18. The United Nations has called on Iran to implement a temporary suspension on cases involving the death sentence and to halt the use of legal proceedings against political activists and individuals exercising their rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

The international community persists in urging Iran to conform its policies to global norms and strive towards the elimination of capital punishment. The relationship between Israel and Iran continues to be characterised by enduring hostility, characterised by political tensions and regional power rivalries.



South Africa/Israel – 29 December

South Africa has formally petitioned the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an immediate order to declare Israel in violation of its responsibilities outlined in the 1948 Genocide Convention, namely on its forceful actions against the Palestinian organisation Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), which serves as the United Nations' forum for resolving disputes between states, is widely regarded as the highest judicial body of the U.N. The foreign ministry of Israel denounced the lawsuit as "unfounded."

South Africa petitioned the court to declare interim measures compelling Israel to cease its military operation in Gaza, citing the need to safeguard the rights of the Palestinian population from further harm. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry expressed its approval of South Africa's legal action, urging the court to intervene to safeguard the Palestinian population and demand that Israel cease its aggressive actions.

The application represents the most recent action taken by South Africa, a country that has expressed disapproval of Israel's conflict. This move is aimed at increasing pressure following a previous decision by lawmakers to close the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and suspend diplomatic relations.

Poland – 28 December

Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in Poland, has issued a directive to dissolve three state media entities: Telewizja Polska (TVP), Polskie Radio, and Polska Agencja Prasowa (PAP). The measure aims to guarantee these businesses' ongoing functioning, promote essential reorganisation, and avert possible job cuts resulting from financial limitations. The decision arises from the conflict between President Andrzej Duda and the recently elected administration regarding media reforms and financial allocations.

Duda exercised his veto power on the 2024 Budget Bill, objecting to allocating 3 billion Zloty for media and demanding the implementation of reforms before approving it. Detractors contend that the dissolution of organisations that offer crucial public functions, such as news dissemination, infringes upon citizens' constitutional entitlement to receive information. Opposition politicians have condemned the decision as a politically motivated rather than financially driven action, with the intention of wresting control of the media from the new government.

Mariusz Błaszczak, the Chairman of the ruling Law and Justice Parliamentary Committee, has accused Prime Minister Donald Tusk of unlawfully acquiring control over the media through Sienkiewicz. Additionally, Błaszczak has condemned Duda for engaging in budgetary practices that contradict the principles of the constitution.

India – 28 December

The State of Gujarat in western India has initiated an inquiry into a chartered aircraft transporting 303 Indian citizens from Paris due to allegations of human trafficking. The aircraft, operated by the Romanian company “Legend Airlines”, was held in France for four days because of the accusations. Upon their arrival in Gujarat, the authorities anticipate information regarding agencies engaging in deceptive practices by making false claims and producing counterfeit documents.

The Indian Embassy is currently undertaking an investigation. The aircraft was granted permission to depart after four days, whereas individuals of foreign nationality situated within a designated transit area may be detained by French law enforcement for a maximum of four days to facilitate police inquiries. According to a legal representative of Legend Airlines in France, all passengers would have received approval from the authorities of the United Arab Emirates during the check-in process at the airport.

A high-ranking police official in Mumbai has instructed the Mumbai police to update his office on the progress of the investigations regularly. Additionally, he has told the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to provide detailed information to the city police within 24 hours.


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