Weekly update: 17 January – 23 January 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 17 January to 23 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.
United Kingdom (UK) – 17 January 2022
The former justice secretary Robert Buckland said that the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill that has sparked “kill the bill” demonstrations across the country is a “proportionate” response to recent protests such as those by Insulate Britain. Protesters took to the streets in cities across the UK at the weekend to rally against the police and crime bill, which is reaching its final stages in parliament and will be considered by the House of Lords today. Sections of the bill have been condemned by human rights activists as an attack on the right to protest, with campaigners arguing that, without changes, the right to peaceful protest could be curbed by legislation.
Philippines – 17 January 2022
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the Philippine government should end the “red-tagging” of activists as rebels or supporters of the communist insurgency. Red-tagging, also known as red-baiting, has been used for decades in the Philippines in the government’s campaign against the communist New People’s Army (NPA), which began in 1969. The government’s counterinsurgency efforts include publicly accusing activists, journalists, politicians, and others and their organisations of being directly involved in the fighting or supporting the NPA. Carlos Conde, senior Philippines researcher at HRW, stated that “red-tagging is a pernicious practice that targets people who often end up being harassed or even killed”, adding that it is “rapidly shrinking the space for peaceful activism in the Philippines.” Red-tagging has become deadlier since Rodrigo Duterte became president in 2016.
Russia / Ukraine – 18 January 2022
The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said that Britain is supplying Ukraine with short-range anti-tank missiles for self-defence after Russia amassed about 100,000 troops on its border and that a small team of British troops would also be sent to Ukraine to provide training. Wallace also stated that there was "legitimate and real cause for concern" the Russian troops could be used for an invasion and that the UK would be providing extra help with security in the light of Russia's "increasingly threatening behaviour".
United Kingdom (UK) – 18 January 2022
Magistrates will be able to lock up people for longer under powers being granted by the government to cut the Crown court backlog. Lord chancellor Dominic Raab announced that he will double the maximum prison sentence – currently six months – that magistrates can hand down. Magistrates will also increasingly be allowed to sentence serious cases such as fraud, theft and assault. Currently, any crime that warrants a prison sentence of more than six months must be sent to the Crown court for a judge to determined the appropriate sentence.
Russia – 18 January 2022
In the case of Karuyev v. Russia, the European Court of Human Rights held that there had been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention on the freedom of expression. The case concerned the applicant’s conviction for spitting on a portrait of Russian President Putin in 2012, in the wake of his re-election. He had been convicted of a breach of public order and sentenced to 15 days of detention. The Court was not satisfied that the elements of an offence – “breach of public order” – under the relevant domestic law had been made out when prosecuting the applicant. Spitting on the portrait of President Putin had been an expression of his political opinion and had not led to any public disturbance. Nor had the act involved any foul language, harassment or damage to property. His conviction had not therefore been “prescribed by law” within the meaning of the Convention.
Israel / Palestine – 19 January 2022
Israeli police have evicted a Palestinian family and demolished their house in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Officers raided the Salhiya family home before dawn, arresting several people before a bulldozer moved in. There had been a two-day stand-off after the head of the family threatened to blow up his house rather than move. Israeli officials said the building was illegal - something the family denied - and the land was needed for a school. The case had drawn international attention, with the European Union and UK warning that evictions in occupied territory were illegal under international law and fuelled tensions on the ground in Jerusalem.
United Kingdom (UK) – 19 January 2022
Women’s rights activists are at the high court to argue that the police’s decision to ban a vigil for Sarah Everard in London was a breach of their human rights. The Metropolitan police were criticised last March after using force to break up the vigil on Clapham Common, close to where Everard, 33, was kidnapped by Wayne Couzens, an officer in an elite Met police firearms unit, then murdered. In the divisional court, Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate will hear that police failed to take into account an earlier ruling that there could be “reasonable excuse” under coronavirus regulations for gatherings engaging those rights.
Germany – 20 January 2022
Former Pope Benedict XVI failed to act over four child abuse cases when he was archbishop of Munich, a German probe into the Catholic Church has alleged. Pope Benedict, then called Josef Ratzinger, held the position from 1977 to 1982. He has denied the accusations. But a new report into historical abuse allegations carried out by a German law firm incriminated the former pontiff. Abuse continued under his tenure, it is alleged, and the accused priests remained active in church roles.
Pakistan – 20 January 2022
Pakistan’s parliament has passed a bill that significantly strengthens protections for women in the workplace against violence and harassment. The new law, drafted by the Ministry of Human Rights with extensive input from women rights groups and lawyers, amends the far weaker 2010 law. The Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Amendment) Bill, 2022, enacted January 14, expands the definition of workplaces to encompass both formal and informal workplaces, bringing it closer to the definition set out in the 2019 International Labour Organization (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention (C190), which Pakistan has not ratified. The new legislation specifically includes domestic workers, who are often isolated and marginalised, and as a result can be at greater risk of workplace violence and harassment.
United Nations (UN) – 20 January 2022
The United Nation’s General Assembly adopted, by consensus, a resolution that condemns denial and distortion of the Holocaust. The resolution was approved in the presence of a group of people who survived the Nazi genocide that killed around six million Jews, some two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe, during World War Two. According to the resolution, this genocide “will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.” In the text, Member States express concern about “the growing prevalence of Holocaust denial or distortion through the use of information and communications technologies.”
Yemen – 21 January 2022
The UN has condemned an airstrike by a Saudi-led coalition on a Yemen detention centre that has killed more than 70 people. The incident happened when a facility was struck in Saada, a stronghold of the rebel Houthi movement, on 21 January. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the "escalation needs to stop" and called for an investigation into strikes in the country. Hours after the airstrike, rescue workers were still pulling bodies out of the rubble, and hopes of finding survivors are fading, says BBC Middle East correspondent Anna Foster. The exact death toll is unclear. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said at least 70 people were killed, though the number is expected to rise.
United Kingdom (UK) – 21 January 2022
Hundreds of people have been stripped of their British citizenship in the last 15 years, according to research, including one man who was stateless for almost five years. Research carried out by Free Movement, a website run by lawyers to provide information for those affected by immigration control, has found that at least 464 people have had their citizenship removed since the law permitting this practice was relaxed 15 years ago. The government does not routinely publish the total number of people it strips of British citizenship.