Weekly update: 16 August 2021 – 22 August 2021
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 16 August 2021 to 22 August 2021.
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 Ned Vucijak for consideration.
United Kingdom (UK) – 16 August 2021
Cherie Blair has joined a campaign to force the men-only Garrick club to admit women, as a growing number of female lawyers protest against the unfairness of rules that exclude them from a networking institution used by senior judges and politicians. Signing a petition calling on the club to change its membership rules, Blair recalled watching her fellow trainee barrister and future husband Tony Blair being admitted into the club in 1976, while she was shut outside. She described the lack of progress as “outrageous”.
United Kingdom (UK) / Afghanistan – 16 August 2021
The Law Society, Bar Council and Bar Human Rights Committee have urged the UK government to offer asylum to female judges and other legal professionals trapped in Afghanistan. In a joint statement today, the professional bodies say they are ‘gravely concerned’ about the situation in Afghanistan and the fate of all those who are working in the Afghan justice system who now face a ‘perilous future’ under the Taliban: “We are extremely worried about the situation of at least 250 women judges in the country who we consider to be at particular risk. We urge the UK government not to abandon these courageous defenders of the rule of law and – in liaison with its international allies – to offer evacuation and safety and asylum in the UK to those women judges, their families, and other members of the legal profession who are in serious danger.”
Bangladesh – 16 August 2021
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that UN human rights experts should lead an independent international investigation into enforced disappearances by security forces in Bangladesh. The 57-page report, “‘Where No Sun Can Enter’: A Decade of Enforced Disappearances in Bangladesh,” finds that, despite credible and consistent evidence that Bangladesh security forces routinely commit enforced disappearances, the ruling Awami League has ignored calls by donor governments, the UN, human rights organizations, and civil society to address the culture of impunity. Alongside the report, Human Rights Watch created a webpage tracking and profiling the cases of 86 victims in Bangladesh who were forcibly disappeared and who remain missing.
Afghanistan – 17 August 2021
There were scenes of panic at Kabul airport as desperate residents tried to flee following the Taliban's seizure of the Afghan capital. The US army said soldiers shot two armed men, while three people were reported to have died after falling from the underside of a plane they were clinging to shortly after take-off. The airport was closed earlier for soldiers to try and clear the runways. US military planes are now landing, including one carrying US marines.
United States (US) / Afghanistan – 17 August 2021
The central bank governor who fled Afghanistan this weekend has told the BBC he wished the country had been left with more time to plan for the withdrawal of US troops. Ajmal Ahmady said it was the Americans' right to leave, even though most Afghans wished they had stayed, but he said there should have been a "longer timeline to implement it". He also rejected President Biden's assertion that the Afghan military had failed to fight for its country.
International Criminal Court (ICC) – 17 August 2021
The Prosecutor of the ICC, Karim Khan QC, said that he echoes the views expressed by the United Nations Security Council over reported incidents on the territory of Afghanistan that may amount to violations of international humanitarian law under the Rome Statute. These reports include allegations of extrajudicial executions in the form of revenge killings of detainees and individuals who surrendered, persecution of women and girls, crimes against children and other crimes affecting the civilian population at large. He added that, “my Office will continue to monitor the Afghanistan situation and will act, as necessary, in accordance with its responsibilities under the Rome Statute.”
United Kingdom (UK) / United States (US) – 18 August 2021
An unnamed source, said to be close to the inquiry, told the Reuters news agency that investigators viewed Prince Andrew as a “person of interest” over his friendship with Epstein as part of their investigation into possible co-conspirators. Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has alleged she was abused by Epstein, filed a civil complaint against Andrew in Manhattan federal court. Giuffre alleges Andrew forced her to have unwanted sex at Maxwell’s London home, and in the US, on three occasions when she was aged 17. Andrew has denied the allegations.
Lithuania / Belarus – 18 August 2021
Lithuania has accused Belarusian border guards of illegally crossing the border to push a group of migrants into Lithuanian territory. The interior ministry said a dozen guards had forced 35 migrants to cross into Lithuania's southeast Šalčininkai District, south of the capital Vilnius. A video of the alleged incident near the village of Dieveniskes was published on social media by the Lithuania's border protection service. The footage purports to show a number of guards, armed with shields, standing behind a group of people as they make their way through high grass. Lithuania says it is "not the first incident of its kind" at the border with Belarus in recent days, and claims that Belarusian border guards withdrew to their country's territory after repeated warnings.
Italy / Dubai – 19 August 2021
One of Italy’s most wanted men, an alleged top drug trafficker suspected of having bought two stolen Van Gogh paintings on the black market, has been arrested in Dubai. Raffaele Imperiale, an alleged kingpin in the Naples-based Camorra organised crime syndicate, was arrested on 4 August, Italy’s state police and financial crimes police corps said in a joint statement. Imperiale, 46, is being held in the United Arab Emirates while Italy’s justice ministry completes extradition procedures.
Africa – 20 August 2021
Zimbabwean police have charged a man after a 15-year-old girl died while giving birth at a church shrine last month. Hatirarami Momberume, 26, has been charged with raping Anna Machaya, whose death provoked outrage in the country and was condemned by the UN. The girl’s parents, Edmore Machaya and Shy Mabika, have been charged with obstructing justice and falsifying identification documents to conceal their daughter’s age. The 15-year-old’s death caused widespread outrage from Zimbabweans and the international community, with girls’ rights organisations calling for quick action to protect teenage girls from sexual predators. Zimbabwe’s constitutional court bans marriage under the age of 18, but the UN says that one in three girls are still likely to be married before reaching that age.
United Kingdom (UK) / Russia – 20 August 2021
Sanctions have been imposed on seven Russian nationals accused of involvement in the nerve agent poisoning of the key Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced that the individuals, said to be members of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), would be subject to travel bans and asset freezes. The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said: “Since the horrific poisoning of Alexei Navalny took place a year ago, the UK has been at the forefront of the international response against this appalling act.”