Weekly update: 7 February – 13 February 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 7 February to 13 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.
Russia / Ukraine – 7 February 2022
Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin did not appear to reach a breakthrough in marathon talks at the Kremlin on Monday evening aimed at fending off a Russian attack on Ukraine. After five hours of negotiations, Macron warned that the two sides needed to work quickly to avoid the risk of an escalation. Macron is due to travel to Kyiv, where he will hold talks with the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He said he plans to brief Putin on the results of the discussions in a phone call. It is not clear how Macron’s shuttle diplomacy can satisfy Russia’s demands that Ukraine membership in Nato be ruled out while maintaining that the alliance’s open door policy is “existential for Europe”, as he said in opening remarks.
Israel – 7 February 2022
Israel's government will set up a commission of inquiry to examine reports the police used spyware made by NSO Group to hack the phones of Israeli public figures without authorisation. Officials, protesters, journalists and a son of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were among those targeted, the local newspaper Calcalist said. A witness in Mr Netanyahu's corruption trial was also allegedly monitored. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the reports, if true, were "very serious".
Syria – 8 February 2022
Amnesty International has confirmed that at least one child has been killed and three injured by the Asayish, the Syrian Kurdish Autonomous Administration’s police force, who opened fire in al-Hol camp on 7 February. Three women were injured as well. The Asayish, which controls the sprawling camp in Syria’s north-east and keeps it closed off to outsiders, has for unclear reasons opened fire on women and children inside the Annex, a section in the camp which hosts all women and children from third countries (other than Iraq), according to individuals with knowledge of the situation in the camp.
Ethiopia – 8 February 2022
Ethiopia has committed a wide range of human rights violations in its war against Tigrayan rebel forces, including mass killings, sexual violence and military targeting of civilians, according to a landmark legal complaint submitted to Africa’s top human rights body. Lawyers acting for Tigrayan civilians said the complaint, filed on 7 February, marked the first time that the African Union’s human rights commission had been asked to look into the conduct of Ethiopian troops in their war with the northern region’s rebel forces. The alleged violations, “could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, but further investigation would be required”, said Antonia Mulvey, executive director of the rights organisation Legal Action Worldwide (Law), which submitted the complaint with the US legal firm Debevoise & Plimpton and the Pan African Lawyers Union (Palu).
Iran / Turkey – 9 February 2022
Three Iranian refugees are facing deportation from Turkey after taking part in a demonstration against Ankara’s withdrawal from the Istanbul convention on violence against women. Lily Faraji, Zeinab Sahafi and Ismail Fattahi were arrested after attending a protest in the southern Turkish city of Denizli last March. A fourth Iranian national, Mohammad Pourakbari, was detained with the others, despite not attending the protests, according to Buse Bergamalı, their lawyer. Hundreds of protesters across Turkey have faced brutal responses from local police for participating in demonstrations against Turkey’s withdrawal from the convention, which aims to combat violence against women by supporting survivors of abuse.
International Criminal Court (ICC) – 9 February 2022
The trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Paul Gicheru is scheduled to open on 15 February 2022 at 9:30 before Trial Chamber III, composed of Judge Miatta Maria Samba. Mr Gicheru is accused of offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing witnesses regarding cases from the situation in Kenya. The hearings for the opening statements of the Prosecution are scheduled on 15 February 2022. The Defence has decided not to present any statements at this point of the proceedings. Mr Gicheru is expected to attend the opening of his trial. The first prosecution witness will also be heard on the same day. Due to the current situation linked to Covid-19, some of the hearings participants will take part via video-link.
United Kingdom (UK) / Syria – 10 February 2022
There is “compelling evidence” that British women and children currently detained in camps in north-east Syria were trafficked to the country against their will, according to a new parliamentary report. After a six-month inquiry by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on trafficked Britons in Syria, the report published today highlights how systemic failures by UK public bodies enabled Islamic State trafficking of vulnerable women and children as young as 12.
Venezuela – 10 February 2022
The policy of repression in Venezuela has been based on the coordination of attacks and stigmatising messages broadcast by media with links to Nicolás Maduro’s government and politically motivated arbitrary arrests by the security forces under his command, with a marked pattern of political discrimination, concludes new research published by Amnesty International in conjunction with the Foro Penal and the Centro para los Defensores y la Justicia (CDJ). Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said that “the world has known for years about the policy of repression that Nicolás Maduro’s government has put in place. Our research shows that there are instances where there is an extremely high correlation between public stigmatization and politically motivated arbitrary arrests. This correlation is a new indicator of a systematic policy of repression and points to the crime against humanity of persecution, which must be investigated by the international justice system”.
United Kingdom (UK) – 11 February 2022
HM Revenue & Customs has been accused by an influential group of MPs of “ignorance and inaction” on recouping £6bn of fraudulent Covid-19 support payments, drawing an angry backlash from the tax authority. The public accounts committee (PAC), which monitors state spending, issued a litany of criticisms of HMRC, warning that money surrendered to fraudsters would ultimately add to the cost of living crisis engulfing Britain.
Russia – 11 February 2022
On 17 February, Russia’s parliament will consider new legislation aimed at punishing state officials who commit torture. The recent leak of multiple videos revealing horrific physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of inmates in prisons across the country highlighted the urgency of significant reform to end a culture of impunity. The draft law reclassifies torture by officials as an “especially grave crime” with a penalty of up to 12 years in prison. However, significant concerns remain over the potential impact of the legislation.
Tanzania – 11 February 2022
Amnesty International said that the lifting of ban on four newspapers that had been barred from publishing since 2016 and 2017 for exposing alleged corruption and human rights violations is a positive step, but the Tanzanian authorities must do more to guarantee media freedom going forward. The four newspapers, Daima, Mawio, Mwanahalisi and Mseto, were banned from publishing for various offences under the restrictive Media Services Act, which came into force in November 2016, and the now repealed Newspaper Act.