Weekly update: 21 February – 27 February 2022
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 21 February to 27 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.
Myanmar – 21 February 2022
Myanmar’s military junta has appeared in place of the detained Aung San Suu Kyi at the UN’s top court, where it sought to throw out a case alleging that it committed genocide against the country’s Rohingya minority. The decision to allow the junta to represent the country in court, after it seized power in a coup last year, was strongly criticised by advocacy groups and a former UN special rapporteur, who warned that it risked delaying justice.
Switzerland – 21 February 2022
The fallout from a huge leak of Credit Suisse banking data threatened to damage Switzerland’s entire financial sector after the European parliament’s main political grouping raised the prospect of adding the country to a money-laundering blacklist. The European People’s party (EPP), the largest political grouping of the European parliament, called for the EU to review its relationship with Switzerland and consider whether it should be added to its list of countries associated with a high risk of financial crime. Experts said that such a move would be a disaster for Switzerland’s financial sector, which would face the kind of enhanced due diligence applied to transactions linked to rogue nations including Iran, Myanmar, Syria and North Korea.
Russia / Ukraine – 22 February 2022
Russia faced western sanctions and bitter condemnation at the United Nations after Vladimir Putin ordered troops over the Ukrainian border into Moscow-controlled territories in the east of the country, which he had recognised hours earlier. With reports of Russian armoured columns advancing into the Donetsk and Luhansk regions under the guise of “peacekeepers” in the Russian-backed enclaves, the US imposed some limited sanctions and warned more would come. The UK is also due to unveil its own package of punitive measures. Both the US and UK believe that the Russian entry into the eastern tip of Ukraine is a precursor for a more sweeping invasion.
Philippines – 22 February 2022
Human Rights Watch said that candidates for the Philippines presidency should pledge to drop all charges against Senator Leila de Lima, who will start her sixth year in detention on 24 February 2022. De Lima has been arbitrarily detained since February 2017 on politically motivated drug charges in retaliation for her criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” and other serious human rights violations.
United Kingdom (UK) – 23 February 2022
The government has been urged to tackle “cruel and unjust” waits for defendants in England and Wales to stand trial after figures showed a 15% yearly rise in the number of people being held for longer than the custody time limit of six months. As of 31 December last year, there were 4,185 people who had been held for more than six months, more than half of whom – 2,279 – were in custody for alleged non-violent offences. Almost two in five (38%) of those being held longer than six months were in custody for alleged drug offences, with 7% on remand for alleged theft. Others were charged with motoring offences being tried in magistrates’ courts, public order offences or fraud.
Nicaragua – 24 February 2022
A court in Nicaragua has found seven critics of the government of President Daniel Ortega guilty of conspiracy in what human rights groups have denounced as a "political trial". Among those convicted are three opposition leaders who had planned to run in the 2021 election.
Russia / Ukraine – 24 February 2022
Russia has launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II and confirmation of the worst fears of the West. The attacks began after Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address that he had approved a “special military operation”. The move came after Moscow earlier recognised rebel-held territories in Luhansk and Donetsk and said they had asked for its “help”.
Ukraine – 25 February 2022
The sound of gunfire has echoed through Ukraine's capital Kyiv as Russian tanks were filmed entering the city for the first time. Ukraine's Ministry of Defence called on those living in the northern outskirts, where the tanks were seen, to make fire bombs "to neutralise the enemy". The European Union has announced new sanctions to freeze Vladimir Putin's personal assets in Europe. The Kremlin, meanwhile, says that Russia is ready for talks with Ukraine. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said talks would have to be about Ukraine declaring a "neutral status" - which would include "demilitarisation". Russia wants Ukraine to rule out ever joining Nato.
United Kingdom (UK) – 25 February 2022
A damning official report has found that rape survivors who report their attackers are being systematically failed by the criminal justice system resulting in an average wait of nearly two years before a trial begins. A joint inspection by two government watchdogs has identified multiple failings in the process from reporting a rape to a possible trial and conviction of an assailant. A lack of collaboration between police and prosecutors has led to months of delays and poor communication with accusers, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) said.