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Weekly update: 25 July – 30 July 2023

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 25 July to 30 July 2023.


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 nenadv@guernica37.com for consideration.

Brazil - 25 July 2023


New Rape Statistics in Brazil Highlight Importance of Sexuality Education


Brazil had the highest number of registered rape cases in its history in 2022: 74,930, according to a recent report by the Brazilian Public Security Forum. In over 60 percent of the cases, the survivor was under 14 years old. In many cases, the abuser was a relative or an acquaintance. The report notes the true number of survivors could be higher, since the data is based on complaints made to authorities and many survivors face barriers reporting abuse.


The study correctly emphasized the “importance of school as a space for the protection of children.” Samira Bueno, executive director of the Forum, noted that children “often cannot recognize that they are experiencing sexual violence” until they take sex education and have the opportunity to discuss these issues with a teacher. The full article can be found here.


Ghana - 25 July 2023


Ghana: Landmark vote to remove death penalty from laws is a major step forward


Since 1977, Amnesty International has been campaigning for the global abolition of the death penalty. In November 2022, in a statement to a delegation from Amnesty International Ghana, the President of Ghana expressed the need to remove the death penalty from the statute books.


Amnesty International’s latest report on the global use of the death penalty in 2022 shows that seven new death sentences were handed down in Ghana, bringing the total of people facing the death penalty in the country to 172 by the end of the year. However, no executions have been carried out since 1993.


As of today, 23 out 55 African countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. The full article can be found here.


Azerbaijan - 25 July 2023


Azerbaijan: Opposition Leader Arrested


On July 24, 2023, Baku’s Narimanov District Court sent Ibadoghlu for four months of pretrial detention on charges of production, acquisition or sale of counterfeit money by an organized group. If convicted, Ibadoghlu could face up to 12 years in prison. During the arrest, police ill-treated Ibadoglu and his wife, who was with him at the time. The authorities should drop charges against him and free him.


“Ibadoghlu’s detention falls squarely in a longstanding pattern of pursuing dubious charges against government critics in Azerbaijan,” said Giorgi Gogia, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Such spurious charges appear to serve only one goal – to silence opposition and critical voices in the country. He should be freed at once.” The full article can be found here.


Kyrgyzstan - 25 July 2023


No Justice 3 Years After Kyrgyzstan Rights Defender’s Death


Azimjon Askarov, a human rights defender and advocate for marginalized communities in southern Kyrgyzstan, should have turned 72 this year. He should be enjoying life with his wife, children, and grandchildren, happily painting landscapes and portraits. Instead, he died in prison three years ago today, held on spurious charges. For this, no one has been held responsible.


Askarov had been serving a life sentence following an unfair trial on politically motivated charges relating to the June 2010 inter-ethnic conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan.


In March 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Committee found that Askarov had been arbitrarily detained and called for his immediate release. Kyrgyzstan’s government did not comply, in violation of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The full article can be found here.


Tunisia - 27 July 2023


MEPs slam EU over ‘grave’ human rights abuses following Tunisia migrant deal


EU lawmakers have accused the European Commission of ignoring ‘grave violations’ of human rights in its ‘cash for migrant control’ agreement with Tunisia in a letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen published on Thursday (27 July). The letter, signed by a cross-party group of MEPs, complains that the EU-Tunisia deal “fails to address core human rights concerns observed in Tunisia”.


“The failure to address such concerns, which include grave violations of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers as well as an escalation of restrictions on civil and political rights, will put the European Union policies at risk of contributing to or perpetuating such violations and enabling impunity of those responsible,” the MEPs stated.


The Memorandum of Understanding setting out the details of the agreement was signed in Tunis on 16 July, with Tunisian President Kais Saied, von der Leyen, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and her Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte.


In exchange for Tunisia stepping up its efforts to control and stem migration flows across the Mediterranean Sea, the European Commission will provide €785 million to the North African country this year to support its economy and projects for underwater fibre-optic and electricity cables between the EU and North Africa. The full article can be found here.


Singapore - 28 July 2023


Singapore: Unlawful and shameful drug executions continue, including of first known woman in 20 years


According to the Transformative Justice Collective, Singaporean national Saridewi Djamani was executed today (28 July) in the first known execution of a woman in Singapore since 2004. She was found guilty of possession of around 30 grams of diamorphine (heroin) for the purposes of trafficking.


A Singaporean Malay man, Mohd Aziz bin Hussain, was executed on Wednesday 26 July after being found guilty in 2018 for trafficking around 50 grams of diamorphine (heroin). Both had been sentenced to the mandatory death penalty in 2018.


Singapore has now executed 15 people for drug related offences since 30 March 2022, when executions resumed after a hiatus of two years. Four of these were known to have been carried out in 2023. Singapore’s close neighbour Malaysia has observed an official moratorium on executions since 2018 and has recently repealed the mandatory death penalty, including for drug-related offences. The Transformative Justice Collective reported that a third execution has been set for 3 August, of a man convicted and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for possession of 54.04g of diamorphine for the purpose of trafficking. Read the full article here.


Yemen - 26 July 2023


Yemen: Proposal for Post-Conflict Justice


Negotiations for an end to the conflict in Yemen should include plans for a post-conflict justice that is inclusive and victim-centered, and includes provisions for accountability, reparations, and redress, more than 40 organizations including Human Rights Watch said today.


Yemeni civil society organizations and associations of Yemeni victims and survivors issued the Yemen Declaration for Justice and Reconciliation today. The declaration sets forth their common vision for achieving justice and reconciliation in post-conflict Yemen. Yemeni authorities, all parties to the conflict, the Office of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Yemen, the United Nations, and the wider international community should respond to the demands set forth in the declaration. Read the full article here.


South Sudan - 27 July 2023


South Sudan: Revise National Security Service Bill


South Sudan’s parliament should revise the pending National Security Service Amendment Bill to bring an end to the agency’s arbitrary arrests and other abusive practices, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The organizations published a joint letter to parliament detailing the bill’s problematic provisions as well as several positive provisions.


“An in-depth review and revision of outstanding gaps in the law governing the National Security Service is critical to reining in the notorious agency,” said Mausi Segun, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Parliament needs to ensure that the pending law genuinely limits the security service’s powers and strengthens oversight of the agency’s activities.”


The current National Security Service Act of 2014 gives the agency broad and unqualified powers that allow it to commit serious abuses with impunity, creating and sustaining a climate of repression and fear. The full article can be found here.


Turkey - 27 July 2023


Turkey: Istanbul Police Mistreatment of Peaceful Protesters


Istanbul police wrongfully detained activists and mistreated them and their lawyers around a July 20, 2023 commemoration of an Islamic State (ISIS) suicide bombing in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruç in 2015 that killed 33 young socialist activists, Human Rights Watch said today.


The police arbitrarily arrested and abused a group of about 45 demonstrators who were handing out fliers in advance of the protest, then assaulted and detained protesters on the day of the demonstration, detaining another 154 people. On both days, the police “kettled” the protesters, herding them into an enclosed space and using excessive force to prevent them from dispersing. Police officers later restricted lawyers’ access to their clients for hours at the police station, verbally and physically abusing the lawyers. The full article can be found here.


Niger - 27 July 2023


Niger: Rights at Risk Since Military Coup


Military forces responsible for a coup in Niger should immediately restore fundamental human rights and protect people from harm, Human Rights Watch said today. Coup leaders should ensure that the deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum, and all others in custody, including Interior Minister Hamadou Adamou Souley, are treated lawfully and with respect and ensure a swift transition to democratic civilian rule.


On July 26, 2023, Nigerien army officers of the self-proclaimed National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (Conseil National pour la sauveguarde de la patrie, CNSP) announced on national television the overthrow of Bazoum’s government. Speaking on behalf of the coup leaders, major-colonel Amadou Abdramane proclaimed that the constitution had been dissolved, all institutions suspended, and the nation’s borders closed. He said the deteriorating “security situation, poor economic, and social governance” led to his forces toppling Bazoum. The full article can be found here.

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