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International Legal News 5 February 2024

Updated: Feb 11

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


Hong Kong – 3 February

Hong Kong’s “Worldcoin” offices have been raided by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) due to concerns over the cryptocurrency's data collection practices. Watchdogs are investigating whether Worldcoin obtained genuine consent and its operations are transparent.

The Hong Kong Information Technology Federation has expressed concerns about Worldcoin's opaqueness. Countries like Germany, the UK, Argentina, and France have also launched investigations.

Lebanon – 3 February

Lokman Slim, a Lebanese researcher and Hezbollah critic was killed in Lebanon three years ago. The investigation into his death has been halted due to procedural violations and negligence.

Human Rights Watch reported on procedural violations and the lack of progress. Prosecutorial and investigative authorities need to follow up on crucial evidence.

USA – 3 February

According to experts, the launch of US exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tracking bitcoin deepens ties between the volatile world of cryptocurrencies and the traditional financial system, potentially creating new risks.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved 11 spot bitcoin ETFs from issuers, including BlackRock and Invesco/Galaxy Digital, a watershed moment for the crypto industry.

 The ETFs combined have around $21 billion in assets and could draw as much as $100 billion this year alone from retail and institutional investors. If widely adopted, the products could pose risks to other parts of the financial system during market stress by exacerbating bitcoin price volatility or creating dislocations between the price of the ETF and bitcoin.

Burkina Faso/Mali/Niger – 2 February           

Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have announced their withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), citing concerns over human rights violations and the regional body's influence.

The decision, limiting access to justice, would also deprive these countries of an independent tribunal. ECOWAS has called for civilian rule and sanctions.


Indonesia – 2 February             

Human Rights Watch has submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Committee on the situation of people with disabilities in Indonesia from 2014 to 2020, highlighting abuses such as stigma, arbitrary detention, involuntary treatment, chaining, violence, and forced contraception.

The report also calls for stronger laws recognising disability discrimination and improving mental health support services.

DR Congo – 2 February

Human Rights Watch has called on the Democratic Republic of Congo authorities to release prominent journalist Stanis Bujakera and drop the charges against him.

Bujakera has been detained since September 8, 2023, and charged with fabricating and distributing a fake intelligence memo claiming Congolese military intelligence had killed a senior opposition official, Chérubin Okende.

The case has increasingly appeared politically motivated and part of a crackdown on the media. The Congolese authorities claimed the intelligence memo was fake and accused Bujakera of sharing it from his messaging applications.

The case revolves around the July 12, 2023, disappearance of Okende, a member of parliament and spokesman for the opposition party “Ensemble pour la République”.

The court has repeatedly denied provisional release to Bujakera, ignoring international bail standards and a global outcry over his continued detention.

Belarus/Cyprus – 1 February

An indictment has been unsealed charging a Belarusian and Cypriot national with money laundering conspiracy and operation of an unlicensed money services business. Aliaksandr Klimenka, 42, is accused of controlling BTC-e, a digital currency exchange, Soft-FX, and FX Open.

The indictment alleges BTC-e was a significant cybercrime and online money laundering entity, facilitating transactions for cybercriminals worldwide and receiving criminal proceeds from various incidents. Klimenka was arrested in Latvia and faces a maximum penalty of 25 years if convicted.

China – 1 February                                  

A report by Human Rights Watch has found that global carmakers, including General Motors, Tesla, BYD, Toyota, and Volkswagen, are failing to minimise the risk of Uyghur forced labour in their aluminium supply chains.

The report found that some carmakers have applied weaker human rights and responsible sourcing standards in their Chinese joint ventures.

The Chinese government has committed crimes against humanity in Xinjiang since 2017, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and forced labour against Uyghurs.

Xinjiang's aluminium production has grown, but tainted aluminium can enter domestic and global supply chains undetected, posing risks to car companies.

The report calls for governments to pay more attention to human rights in China and ensure businesses do not use or benefit from forced labour.

Israel/USA – 1 February

Families of hostages and victims of Hamas in Israel are suing cryptocurrency exchange Binance for its alleged role in processing transactions associated with the terrorist group and others operating in the region.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York on behalf of US citizens who were murdered, maimed, taken hostage, or otherwise injured in acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas and other terrorist groups in the State of Israel on October 7, 2023.

The plaintiffs, who are also suing Iran and Syria, accuse Binance of facilitating the financing of Hamas, which is listed as a terror group by the U.S., U.K. and other jurisdictions, and other terrorist organisations between 2017 and 2023.

More than 100 Binance accounts with suspected links to Hamas were frozen at the request of Israeli law enforcement in the ten days following the attacks.

Italy/Albania – 1 February

Italy's detention deal with Albania is set to proceed despite concerns that it may violate international law and create legal limbo for vulnerable people.

The plan involves setting up two detention centres in Albania, with a capacity of 3,000 people. The plan could cost €700 million over five years and raises questions about the impact on Italy's search-and-rescue operations and the application of Italian and EU law.

Sudan – 31 January

The International Organization for Migration reported that 10.7 million people have been displaced from their homes in Sudan, with 9 million internally displaced. Sudan now has the highest rate of internal displacement in the world, surpassing Syria's 7.2 million.

The warring parties, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) have been blamed for the crisis. The international response has failed to prioritise civilian protection, hold warring parties accountable, or ensure safe humanitarian access.


Thailand/Russia - 31 January

Thai authorities are considering deporting Bi-2 rock music band members to Russia following their detention in Thailand.

The band, known for its anti-war stance against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, has faced a state-backed smear campaign and a 'foreign agent' designation by Russian authorities.

Amnesty International Deputy Director Denis Krivosheev urges Thai authorities to uphold international obligations and allow the band members to leave Thailand.

USA – 31 January

Senator Ben Cardin introduced the “Human Rights Defenders Protection Act” of 2024 to protect individuals abroad who face reprisals for defending human rights and democracy.

The Bill would integrate support for rights defenders into US policies, encourage private sector engagement, and improve assistance for exiled rights defenders. It would also establish a Global Strategy for Human Rights Defenders.

UK - 31 January, the tech firm behind the crypto token, has been put into administration and sold back to a consortium of its founders.

The Suffolk-based firm faced financial difficulties towards the end of 2023 and appointed administrators to find rescue capital or secure a sale of shares, business, and assets.’s market cap is over half a billion dollars, with a daily trading volume of around $50 million.

The company does not own the token and will not be directly impacted by the administration process. ReSolve, the company's insolvency partner, said the founders put forward the best offer.

Japan – 31 January

Japan has expressed concern about China's human rights situation, recommending Beijing to protect minorities' rights and guarantee fundamental rights under Hong Kong’s basic law.

The Japanese government has also passed resolutions addressing human rights issues in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia.

Japan suggests enacting targeted human rights sanctions and working towards a UN resolution to investigate violations.

UK/China – 30 January

A former Chinese takeaway worker, Jian Wen, is on trial for money laundering charges following a £1.4bn investment fraud in China.

Wen is accused of acting as a "front person" to help launder the proceeds of the fraud. Police seized devices containing digital wallets holding over 61,000 Bitcoins, valued at over £1.4 billion.

Wen denies three counts of money laundering between October 2017 and January 2022. The trial continues, and the jury will decide whether Wen knew or suspected the Bitcoin was the proceeds of the crime.

Myanmar – 30 January

Myanmar's military junta has been conducting unlawful airstrikes on civilians in its operations against opposition and ethnic armed groups, according to Human Rights Watch. The junta's abuses, including arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings, and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In 2023, Human Rights Watch found that the military's unlawful airstrikes in Sagaing Region and Kachin State were apparent war crimes. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, has declared Myanmar's deteriorating human rights situation in "free fall."

The junta's actions have displaced around 600,000 people across the country, with an unknown number of civilians killed and injured in recent airstrikes. The UN Security Council looks to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar and refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.

Saudi Arabia – 30 January

Saudi Arabia must abide by recommendations from the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group report, which includes 354 recommendations from 135 UN member states.

The report calls for reforms in areas such as freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, abolishing the death penalty, protecting migrant workers' rights, and eliminating discrimination against women.

Amnesty International urges Saudi Arabian authorities to take these recommendations as a wake-up call to end their most egregious human rights violations, including the crackdown on freedom of expression, child offenders' death sentences, and migrant torture.

Yemen – 30 January

Ansar Allah, the Houthi armed group, has arrested a Yemeni judge, Abdulwahab Qatran, for his criticism of Houthi actions in the Red Sea. Human Rights Watch believes the arrest was due to Qatran's political and rights activism rather than alcohol-related reasons.

The Houthis have been accused of arbitrary detention, disappearance, assault, and torture of activists, journalists, and students, violating their rights to a fair trial, liberty, and security.

The arrest is part of a broader pattern of Houthi crackdowns on freedom of expression and abuse against activists and political opponents. The UN Panel of Experts on Yemen has documented numerous cases involving arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture, with most violations attributed to the Houthi forces.

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