Weekly update: 31 January – 6 February 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 31 January to 6 February 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) – 31 January 2022
The typical delay between an offence of rape and the completion of the resulting criminal case rose to 1,000 days in 2021 for the first time, figures have revealed. The Ministry of Justice said the median time between offence and completion in rape cases was 1,020 days, or over two and a half years, in the first nine months of 2021, up by more than a quarter from the previous year. Jo Sidhu QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said that “five years or more for a complainant to finally see a trial conclude is rapidly becoming the norm not the exception as these serious cases go to the back of a queue in a system starved of criminal barristers.”
United Kingdom (UK) – 31 January 2022
The bar is slowly becoming more diverse although women and those from ethnic minorities remain underrepresented as silks and a ‘disproportionately high number’ of barristers attended an independent school, the Bar Standards Board has reported. The proportion of barristers from minority ethnic backgrounds increased slightly in 2021 to 14.7%, the same as the estimated proportion of the working age population in England and Wales last year. However, the BSB said there is still a disparity between the overall percentage of ethnic minority barristers and the percentage of QCs from minority ethnic backgrounds, which was up slightly to 9.6%. The BSB’s annual diversity report also states that the proportion of female QCs increased from 16.8% to 17.9%. This is still far below the proportion of women barristers (38.8%), although the difference narrowed slightly in 2021.
Russia / Ukraine – 1 February 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has praised Western backing in the face of Russia's military build-up and announced an expansion of the army. "Support for Ukraine is the biggest since 2014," he told MPs on a day of visits by British, Polish and Dutch leaders. Top US and Russian officials are due to hold fresh talks on the crisis. Mr Zelensky told parliament a new "format of political co-operation" was being created with the UK and Poland. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said it would cover security as well as trade, investment and energy. Russia has repeatedly denied planning any invasion of Ukraine, but has deployed an estimated 100,000 troops as well as tanks, artillery and missiles within reach of its borders.
Israel / Palestine – 1 February 2022
Amnesty International states that Israeli laws, policies and practices against Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories amount to apartheid. A new report alleges that the Israeli state maintains "an institutionalized regime of oppression and domination of the Palestinian population for the benefit of Jewish Israelis". Apartheid is considered a crime against humanity under international law. Israel says it "absolutely rejects all the false allegations" in the report. A foreign ministry spokesperson accused Amnesty of recycling "lies, inconsistencies, and unfounded assertions that originate from well-known anti-Israeli hate organisations".
Azerbaijan / United Kingdom (UK) – 1 February 2022
A multimillionaire Azerbaijani politician and his family have been ordered to hand over £5.6m of suspect funds brought into the UK via a complex money laundering scheme nicknamed the “Azerbaijani laundromat”. A judge ordered that Javanshir Feyziyev and his family forfeit £5.63m held in various bank accounts after ruling the funds “arise from criminal conduct” and “money laundering”. The National Crime Agency (NCA) said Feyziyev, a serving member of the Azerbaijan parliament, brought millions of pounds of illicit wealth into the UK via the laundromat.
United Kingdom (UK) – 2 February 2022
Fair Trials and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch have sent a letter to Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab MP, demanding a review of coronavirus fines and prosecutions, backed by 15 rights groups, 40+ parliamentarians and several human rights lawyers. In the joint letter, the signatories cite the discriminatory, inconsistent and unlawful enforcement of coronavirus laws and regulations. In order for justice to be served, there is an urgent need for a review of the enforcement of coronavirus-related laws and regulations. We are calling for wrongfully or unlawfully issued fines to be repaid, prosecutions withdrawn and criminal convictions rescinded.
Brazil – 2 February 2022
Three people have been arrested in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro over the murder of a Congolese migrant, a killing that was captured on video and caused public outrage. Relatives said Moise Kabagambe was attacked at a beach kiosk after asking the manager to pay overdue wages. Footage released by police shows him being repeatedly beaten by four men with clubs and a baseball bat. The aggressions continued even as Kabagambe lay motionless on the ground. The video shows a group of people, including one of the aggressors, trying to revive his lifeless body after the beating.
Sudan – 3 February 2022
Human Rights Watch said that security forces in Sudan have repeatedly attacked or otherwise used excessive unnecessary force, including lethal force, against peaceful demonstrators in Khartoum. On 17 January 2022, alone, doctors’ groups recorded seven killings of protesters by live ammunition, three of which Human Rights Watch documented. Following the military coup on 25 October, numerous protests have taken place across Sudan, particularly in the capital, Khartoum. According to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, security forces have killed 79 people, including a woman and nine children. The second deadliest day since the coup occurred on 17 January.
Syria / United States (US) – 3 February 2022
The leader of the Islamic State (IS) group has been killed in an overnight US special forces raid in north-west Syria, President Joe Biden says. Mr Biden said the death of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi had "removed a major terrorist threat to the world". Qurayshi detonated a bomb that killed himself and members of his own family "in a final act of desperate cowardice", the president added. Syrian first responders said they found the bodies of 13 people after the raid. The operation targeted a two-storey residential building on the outskirts of the opposition-held town of Atmeh, which is in northern Idlib province and is close to the border with Turkey.
China / Russia – 4 February 2022
China has joined Russia in opposing further Nato expansion as the two countries move closer together in the face of Western pressure. Moscow and Beijing issued a statement showcasing their agreement on a raft of issues during a visit by Russia's Vladimir Putin for the Winter Olympics. Mr Putin claims Western powers are using the Nato defence alliance to undermine Russia. It comes amid tensions over Ukraine, which he denies planning to invade. Some 100,000 Russian troops remain at the border with Ukraine, which is a former Soviet republic. Mr Putin, who has written that Russians and Ukrainians are "one nation", has demanded that Ukraine be barred from joining Nato. While the lengthy joint statement did not refer directly to Ukraine, the two countries accused Nato of espousing a Cold War ideology.
Denmark – 4 February 2022
A Danish court has found three members of an Iranian opposition group guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia. The three men were detained by police in February 2020 and are members of the Saudi-backed Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA). They were also found guilty of "promoting terrorism" by supporting its armed wing in Iran. They face sentencing next month, with possible prison terms of up to 12 years and deportation.