The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 23 October to 29 October 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.
Panama – October 28th
Panama will reject all new mining projects as the Panama government defends a controversial contract which extends operations for two decades at a major copper mine. This has sparked growing protests calling for its cancellation. This is a surprise given that it was only a week ago since the revised contract allowed Canada's First Quantum (FMTO) to continue operating its lucrative "Cobra Panama Project". Protesters have taken to the streets to criticise the deal and the mines' environmental costs. Government members have criticised this protest, explaining that "Panama is a mining country". Panama's top court is considering a second lawsuit challenging the contract.
Egypt – October 28th
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi Has warned that any expansion of the Israel-Palestine conflict risks the region becoming a "ticking time bomb". Egypt complains that they will suffer as a by-product. With drones now being found in Egyptian territory. They believe themselves to be a sovereign country which should be respected. This comes after Sisi held a peace summit last weekend calling for aid to be delivered to Gaza, the release of hostages and a ceasefire.
Israel – October 27th
250 British lawyers and Legal Academics have called on the UK Government to press for a ceasefire in Gaza because International Law is being breached. This comes as the government and opposition face calls from their backbenches to take more decisive action in the humanitarian crisis. This ensures that the UK government complies with its Geneva Convention obligations not to encourage, aid or assist violations of international humanitarian law by other states. Lawyers also urge the government to stop sales of arms to Israel. The 10-page letter implores the UK government that “the commission by one party to a conflict of serious violations of international humanitarian law does not justify their commission by another party”. The lawyers believe that there are no restraints left and that both sides will go all out to annihilate the other. Israel may already be guilty of committing war crimes by blocking food, water, medicines and fuel into Gaza. The impact on innocent civilians has been severe, leading many to surmise that this is a genocide in all but name.
Ireland – October 25th
Irish Red Cross 2023 International Humanitarian Law Conference "War in Cities: Exploring the devastating consequences of Armed Conflict in Urban Contexts" was held this week in Mansion House in Dulin. Topics covered included "Healthcare as a Political Football", where medics discussed the need for more significant numbers in urban conflicts. Doctors should remain impartial and treat anyone needing medical attention, especially when supplies are cut off and resources finite. There was a brief discussion about "Collateral Damage", especially concerning civilian casualties when fighting the enemy. “Gender-based violence” was another topic discussed; the panel believed that it and sexual violence were becoming increasingly accepted within warfare, especially when women had to seek safety away from their homes. The destruction of school buildings also prevented a haven for women and girls from sheltering. The fourth and final topic to be discussed was "Explosive Weapons and Urban Warfare." in a discussion of a political declaration on this issue last year, a discussion was had about the inappropriate nature of explosive weapons in high civilian areas.
Saudi Arabia – October 26th
Amnesty International claims that Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court secretly upheld the death sentences of 2 young men who were convicted of terror-related charges, both under 18 and without notifying family or lawyers. They participated in anti-government protests. It is thought that their confessions were elicited by torture. They have exhausted all domestic legal remedies, and the King must ratify all death sentences. Amnesty International is asking for the King not to authorise these death sentences and for their sentences to be quashed. This comes after the Saudi Human Rights Commission reported in May 2023 that they had abolished juvenile executions, especially as Saudi Arabia has ratified the Convention on The Rights of The Child; this was later to be found tenuous as on the 16th of October 2023 there was said to be the imminent execution of a juvenile, a moratorium was requested on the use of the death penalty. Saudi Arabia is known for being one of the world's top executioners. In 2022, the Kingdom executed 196 people.
Iran – October 25th
A 16-year-old schoolgirl remains in a coma, having been confronted and attacked over compulsory veiling laws, seen as abuse against women and girls in recent months. Women and girls live in fear of leaving the house unveiled for fear of reprisals. Iranian authorities have introduced draconian penalties for all those who do not comply. Just over a year ago, a 22-year-old lost her life in a beating because she did not wear her veil. This led to worldwide protests about Iran’s continuing policy, but European leaders expressed strong statements of solidarity. Women in Iran have stood up to veiling laws but faced suspension, expulsion from work and universities, denied access to banking services and abuse or death as a consequence. Iranian officials have ruthlessly crushed protests, encouraged with impunity.
The EU has made noises about reaffirming its support for Iranian women; however, the "Bill To Support The Culture Of Chastity And Hijab” might conflict with this, which will essentially protect Iran’s right to oppress women who do not conform to Iranian law on veils, leading some experts to describe this as "gender apartheid”.
Nigeria – October 25th
The Nigerian security services have been accused of arresting attendees at a "gay party" where a “gay wedding” was being planned and intended to be put into action. Nigeria has a chequered history of homophobic raids and misusing laws to harass people accused of same-sex activity. The Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill was signed into law in 2014, which criminalises same-sex relationships and public displays of affection between same-sex couples and restricts the work of organisations defending homosexuals and their rights.
Russia - October 24th
The prominent Human rights Lawyer Magomed Alamov Has had death threats made against him because he works for the non-governmental organisation "Crew Against Torture" working with SK SOS, a support network for victims of domestic violence. He is being threatened with death by a family (high-ranking officials) who insist upon the return of a young female who escaped domestic violence. They say that if she does not return, Alamov's Life will be in danger; he is also concerned for the safety and well-being of his family. Amnesty International calls for authorities to provide urgent and adequate protection for Magomed Alamov and his family.
Mexico – October 24th
Mexico is thought to be the first victim of climate change. The El Bosque community in Tabasco will have to move because of rising sea levels, having already lost 200m of coastline and destroyed more than 50 homes. The community is uninhabitable, without drinking water, electricity and the inability of children to live safely. People without the ability to leave are vulnerable and live in temporary shelters. Despite meetings in Mexico City with the Ministry of Land, Territory and Urban Development (SEDATU), who promised to help relocate the inhabitants, they have yet to hear anything about the relocation. The El Bosque Community are keen to ask for help from the international community, stating that they may be the first community to move because of climate change, but they certainly won't be the last.
USA – October 24th
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the USA has proposed the long-anticipated "Personal Financial Data Rights Rule”, which would regulate consumer and data companies' access to personal financial information through banking. The thinking behind this rule is that there will be increased competition in the banking and consumer finance sector as well as allowing for the protection of consumer data through the “Data access framework" that is seen to be a more competitive, reliable and secure System currently exists.