Weekly update: 3 January – 9 January 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 3 January to 9 January 2022. 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.
Yemen – 3 January 2022
The Royal Navy’s maritime information service has received reports of an attack on a vessel near Yemen’s port of Ras Isa and an investigation was being conducted. In an advisory issued at 2150 GMT on Sunday, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) – part of Britain’s Royal Navy – advised mariners to exercise extreme caution in the area. It put the vessel’s position at approximately 23 nautical miles west of Ras Isa oil terminal on the Red Sea. The last shipping incident near Ras Isa was in late 2019 when Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement briefly seized a Saudi-flagged ship and two South Korean vessels.
Sudan – 3 January 2022
Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has resigned after another day of mass protests rocked the capital Khartoum. Thousands marched against a recent deal he had done to share power with the army, who staged a coup in October. Chanting "power to the people", protesters called for a return to full civilian rule. But military forces again responded with force, leaving two people dead. Mr Hamdok's decision to quit leaves the army in full control. It is another blow to Sudan's fragile attempts at a transition to democratic rule after a popular uprising led to the overthrow of Sudan's long-term authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir in 2019. In a televised address, Mr Hamdok said the country was at a "dangerous turning point that threatens its whole survival".
European Court of Human Rights – 3 January 2022
From 1 February 2022 the time-limit for submitting an application to the European Court of Human Rights will be reduced from six months to four months from the final domestic judicial decision in the case (usually a judgment of the highest court in the country concerned). The change to the time-limit for applying to the Court arises out of Protocol No. 15 to the European Convention on Human Rights, which has been signed and ratified by the 47 member States of the Council of Europe. The four-month time-limit for applying to the Court after the final domestic decision is one of the admissibility criteria laid down in Article 35 of the Convention. If even one of these criteria is not met the application will be declared inadmissible.
Haiti – 4 January 2022
Officials said that gunmen tried to kill Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry during an event to mark the anniversary of the country's independence. The incident happened as Mr Henry took part in the ceremony at a church in the northern city of Gonaïves. Video posted online showed the prime minister and his entourage scrambling toward their cars amid intense gunfire. The security situation has deteriorated significantly since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last July. Mr Henry has pledged to crack down on powerful gangs that are blamed for a wave of kidnappings and for seizing control of much of the gas distribution around the country, causing severe fuel shortages. The prime minister's office said "bandits and terrorists" were behind the assassination attempt, and that arrest warrants had been issued for the suspects.
Cambodia – 5 January 2022
Independent UN rights experts said that the arrest and detention of at least 29 casino union leaders and activists during a strike that began on New Year’s Eve in Cambodia, may represent a breach of human rights law. Most of the strikers were women and many of the arrests were conducted in “a violent way”, the experts added. The arrests appeared to contravene the right to freedom of association, assembly and expression. The experts stated that they “strongly condemn the manner in which the first arrests took place, after dark, on a day where multiple other events diverted public attention”. The experts called on the Government to explain the response by the police, and said they were following developments closely.
United States (US) / Colombia – 5 January 2022
A former Colombian military officer has been charged in the US in connection with the assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse last July. Mario Antonio Palacios, 43, is accused of having "participated in a plot to kidnap or kill the Haitian president", the US justice department said. In a statement, the US justice department said a complaint was filed in the state of Florida accusing Mr Palacios, along with a group of about 20 other Colombian nationals and dual Haitian-American citizens, of "conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping" outside the US. The statement said that the group was alleged to have “initially focused on conducting a kidnapping”, but that it “ultimately resulted in a plot to kill” Mr Moïse, adding that “Palacios and others entered the president's residence in Haiti with the intent and purpose of killing President Moïse, and in fact the president was killed”.
United Kingdom (UK) – 6 January 2022
Britain has been accused of reviving a policy of “targeted killing” after it emerged that the RAF had killed an arms dealer linked to Islamic State in a precision drone strike in Syria at the end of October. Reprieve, a human rights charity, asked “what are the criteria” used to justify who can be targeted in a “track and kill” drone strike, and called on ministers to tell the Commons why this strike was deemed necessary. The MoD said it had not changed its policy and said the UK has “a robust target clearance process, operates under strict rules of engagement, and is fully compliant with international law”. It published “regular updates” on airstrikes conducted against IS targets for “full transparency”.
Kazakhstan / Russia – 6 January 2022
Security forces in the Central Asian state of Kazakhstan say they have killed dozens of anti-government rioters in the main city, Almaty. A police spokeswoman said that they moved in after protesters tried to take control of police stations in the city. Twelve members of the security forces have been killed and 353 injured in the unrest, sparked by a doubling in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Russia is sending in troops at the request of the Kazakh president. They will be deployed to help "stabilise" the country, which is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) along with Russia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. The CSTO confirmed Russian paratroopers were being dispatched as peacekeepers, with advance units already deployed. Protests began on 2 January 2022 when the government lifted its price cap on LPG, which many people use to fuel their cars, but the unrest has since spread to include political grievances.
Guatemala – 6 January 2022
The trial has begun in Guatemala of five former paramilitary soldiers accused of raping 36 indigenous Mayan women during the 1980s. The abuse is alleged to have taken place over five years at the height of the civil war between the military government and left-wing guerrillas. Prosecutors say the victims' lives were shattered, and that one was only 12 years old when the abuse began. The five men accused of rape deny the charges. They are former members of Guatemala's Civil Self-Defence Patrols (PAC), local militias blamed for multiple atrocities during the 1960-1996 war. They joined the hearings through a video conference from the jail, where they will remain until a verdict is issued. Indigenous people were often targeted by the military government, which accused them of backing the rebels. The rapes are alleged to have happened around Rabinal, a small town in the department of Baja Verapaz to the north of the capital, Guatemala City.
United Kingdom (UK) / Russia – 6 January 2022
Massive coordinated sanctions threatened against Russia if it launches military action against Ukraine will hit the high-level Russian elite and its ability to carry out financial transactions, Liz Truss, the UK foreign secretary, told MPs, as she warned the west could not afford to be seen to reward Moscow in crucial talks next week. Her remarks appear indirectly to confirm that if Russia mounts an incursion into Ukraine it could be excluded from Swift, the messaging network used by 11,000 banks in 200 countries to make cross-border payments.
Kazakhstan – 7 January 2022
Kazakhstan authoritarian leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has ordered security forces to "kill without warning" to crush the violent protests that have paralysed the former Soviet republic and reportedly left dozens dead. In a defiant public address, Tokayev claimed the unrest, which began earlier this week as protests against rising fuel prices, had been masterminded by well-trained "terrorist bandits" from both inside and outside the country. Tokayev said a contingent of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance made up of former Soviet states, has arrived in the country "for a short period of time" to carry out the functions of defence and support.
Haiti – 7 January 2022
Two Haitian journalists were burned alive by a gang in the country's capital on Thursday, a source with the Haitian Security Forces told CNN. The source said the Ti Makak gang carried out the killings in the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. The motive and details of the attack remain unclear, the source said.
A third journalist managed to escape. Haitian media outlet Radio Écoute FM confirmed that one of its journalists, John Wesley Amady, was killed in the attack while he was on assignment documenting the lack of security in the area. In a statement to CNN, the outlet said Amady "was savagely shot and burned alive by armed bandits."