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International Legal News

Weekly update: 19 - 26 May 2020

The following media round up of international legal and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period 19 - 26 May 2020. The Guernica Group 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 Nenad Vucijak for consideration.

Iraq: 19 May 2020 

A U.N investigative team says it has made “significant progress” in collecting new sources of evidence in Iraq against Islamic State extremists, including over 2 million call records that should strengthen cases against perpetrators of crimes against the Yazidi minority in 2014. Rwanda: 22 May 2020  

The Mechanism Office of the Prosecutor confirmed the death of Augustin Bizimana, one of the major fugitives alleged to have been a senior leader of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. This confirmation is based on the conclusive identification of Bizimana’s remains in a grave site in Pointe Noire, the Republic of the Congo. International Court of Justice: 22 May May The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has decided to postpone to the week beginning Monday 15 March 2021 the oral proceedings in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya), which were scheduled to open on Monday 8 June 2020. The Court reached its decision, having duly considered the views and arguments of the Parties, following Kenya’s request for a postponement of the oral proceedings in the case owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. China: 22 May 2020 A new dangerous national security law plan is set to be a fundamental attack on human rights in Hong Kong. Responding to the Chinese government’s proposal to enact new national security legislation for Hong Kong, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and South East Asia, Joshua Rosenzweig, said:

“China routinely abuses its own national security framework as a pretext to target human rights activists and stamp out all forms of dissent. This dangerous proposed law sends the clearest message yet that it is eager to do the same in Hong Kong, and as soon as possible." Myanmar: 26 May 2020

 By an Order dated 18 May 2020, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, decided, further to the request of The Gambia, to extend from 23 July 2020 to 23 October 2020 and from 25 January 2021 to 23 July 2021 the respective time-limits for the filing of the Memorial of the Republic of The Gambia and the Counter-Memorial of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar). Myanmar: 26 May 2020

Satellite imagery shows that about 200 homes and other buildings were destroyed by fire on May 16, 2020, in Myanmar’s embattled Rakhine State, according to Human Rights Watch. An impartial investigation is urgently needed to determine responsibility for this mass destruction of residential property in the predominantly ethnic Rakhine village of Let Kar, Mrauk-U township. Iraq: 26 May 2020

A report published by the United Nations on the abduction of protesters in Iraq since last October has detailed their ordeals from the time of abduction through interrogation to acts of torture. In its fourth report on the protests, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office documented cases involving 123 people who disappeared between 1 October 2019 and 21 March 2020. Of these, 98 people were located, but 25 remain missing or are in an unknown status. Bangladesh: 26 May 2020

UN experts expressed alarm about the ongoing persecution of journalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol in Bangladesh and his previous suspected enforced disappearance. They warned that his detention and the ongoing criminal cases against him compound fears that Bangladesh is using its Digital Security Act to stifle free speech. Libya: 26 May 2020 The US military accused Russia of deploying fighter aircraft to Libya "repainted to camouflage" their origin in support of mercenaries fighting for eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar's forces.

The allegation came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday told a Haftar ally that Moscow backed an immediate ceasefire and political talks that would culminate in united governing authorities. Israel: 26 May 2020 

An Israeli woman facing 74 child sex charges in Australia is mentally fit to face extradition, a court has ruled. Malka Leifer, the former principal of a Jewish girls' school in Melbourne, fled to Israel in 2008 after accusations were raised against her.

Extradition hearings were delayed for two years as Ms Leifer, 54, said panic attacks prevented her coming to court. But a Jerusalem district court judge said expert opinion was followed in ruling Ms Leifer fit for the process.

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