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Weekly update: 7 August – 13 August 2023

The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 7 August to 13 August 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.


Viet Nam - 7 August 2023


Viet Nam: Man believed to be at imminent risk of execution in case beset by forced confession and torture allegations


The authorities of Viet Nam must immediately halt any plans to carry out the execution of a man whose case has been tainted by serious concerns of torture and violations of the right to a fair trial, Amnesty International said today. The organization urges the government to also promptly initiate an independent and impartial investigation into his allegations of torture and other ill-treatment to extract a “confession” while in police custody.


The family of Nguyen Van Chuong, a 40-year-old labourer from North Viet Nam, has raised the alarm over his possible execution after they were asked on 4 August to report within three days to the People’s Court of Hai Phong city to make arrangements to receive Nguyen’s remains. However, the family was not given information on the set date for the execution.


“The authorities of Viet Nam must immediately call off any plans to execute Nguyen Van Chuong. The case against him has been beset by disturbing allegations from day one, including that he was beaten and hung upside down during interrogation to force a “confession”. These are serious allegations that have cast a dark shadow on his conviction and demand an independent and impartial investigation. If the authorities go ahead with this execution, they could be arbitrarily depriving Nguyen of his life,” said Montse Ferrer, Interim Deputy Regional Director for Research.


Nguyen Van Chuong was convicted of robbery and the murder of a policeman in July 2007, alongside two others, and sentenced to death. Nguyen denies the charges and in letters to his family has said that he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in police custody to make him “confess” to the murder. He alleges that he was stripped naked, hung and beaten during police interrogation. The authorities have reportedly denied his claims. The full article can be found here.


Niger - 14 August 2023


Niger military to prosecute Mohamed Bazoum for ‘high treason’


Charges against deposed president come hours after a Nigerian delegation said Niger’s coup leaders were open to diplomacy to resolve the crisis in their country.


Niger’s military has said it will prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum for treason, hours after a group of senior Islamic scholars said the country’s coup leaders open to diplomacy to resolve their standoff with West Africa’s regional bloc.


In a statement read out on national television late on Sunday, a spokesman for Niger’s military laid out the charges against Bazoum as “high treason and undermining the internal and external security” of the country. The full article can be found here.


Jordan - 14 August 2023


Jordan shoots down crystal meth-laden drone from Syria


Jordan has previously downed drones from Syria carrying narcotics but has rarely identified seized drugs as crystal meth. A drone carrying crystal meth has been downed by Jordan’s military as it flew into Jordanian territory from neighbouring Syria, state news agency Petra reported.


Petra on Sunday quoted a source within the Jordanian armed forces as saying that the drone was “taken control of and downed”, and the crystal meth was handed over to the “competent authorities”. War-torn Syria has become a hub for a multibillion-dollar drugs trade, with Jordan a main transit route to the oil-rich Gulf states for a Syrian-made amphetamine known as Captagon, Western anti-narcotics officials say. The full article can be found here.


Ukraine - 13 August 2023


Family killed in Russian shelling in Ukraine’s Kherson


A couple, their 23-day-old baby and their 12-year-old son were killed in Russian attack on Shyroka Balka village in southern Ukraine.


Russian shelling has killed seven people, including a 23-day-old infant, and wounded 20 others in Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson, prompting local officials to declare a day of mourning. Kyiv reclaimed part of Kherson from Russian occupation last November, but Kremlin troops have continued shelling the regional capital and areas around it from across the Dnipro River. Read the full article here.


Haiti - 14 August 2023


Haiti: Surge in Violent Abuses


UN Security Council Response Should Uphold Rights


Killings, kidnappings, and sexual violence by criminal groups in and around Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, have increased dramatically since the start of 2023 with a weak to non-existent state response, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.


The 98-page report, “Living a Nightmare: Haiti Needs an Urgent Rights-Based Response to Escalating Crisis,” documents abuses committed by criminal groups and state inaction in four metropolitan Port-au-Prince communes – Cabaret, Cité Soleil, Croix-des-Bouquets, and Port-au-Prince itself – between January and April 2023. In Haiti, the state is nearly absent, impunity reigns, and nearly half the population is acutely food insecure. Human Rights Watch also assessed the humanitarian, political, and judicial crises, plus abuses of previous international interventions and the enduring legacy of slavery, exploitation, and abuse by colonial powers. The full article can be found here.


Egypt - 14 August 2023


The future of the Muslim Brotherhood


Ten years after the massacre in Cairo’s Rabaa Square, the Islamist movement is still trying to find its footing.


In Egypt, the space for political dissent is as small as most can remember.


A decade on from the Rabaa massacre, when at least 900 protesters were killed demonstrating against the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup, current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – the man who removed Morsi – has little domestic opposition to worry about.


As for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the group that Morsi was a member of when he assumed the presidency for a year in 2012, they still appear politically weak, with divisions over what the next steps should be.


Even the space outside Egypt for exiled members of the MB to operate has gotten smaller, with a rapprochement between Turkey and Egypt meaning that Ankara is less welcoming to its territory being used as a base for anti-Sisi campaigns. The full article can be found here.


Zimbabwe - 4 August 2023


Zimbabwe: Authorities must promptly investigate the death of opposition party activist.


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.


Iraq - 9 August 2023


Iraq: Authorities must immediately reverse media ban on the terms “homosexuality” and “gender”


Responding to the directive issued by the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) that media outlets must replace the term “homosexuality” with “sexual deviance” in their published and broadcast language, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Aya Majzoub said:


“The directive from Iraq’s official media regulator is the latest in a series of attacks on freedom of expression under the guise of respect for “public morals”. The CMC’s ban of the word “homosexuality” and insistence that media use “sexual deviance” instead is a dangerous move that can fuel discrimination and violent attacks against members of the LGBTI community.”

“Furthermore, its ban and demonization of the word “gender” demonstrates a callous disregard for combatting gender-based violence at a time when civil society has been reporting an increase in crimes against women and girls, amid widespread impunity.” The full article can be found here.


Ethiopia - 9 August 2023


Deepening Crisis in Ethiopia’s Amhara Region


Years of violent unrest and armed conflict in Ethiopia have resulted in countless abuses in regions across the country. The last few weeks show there is no end in sight.


Since April, the Ethiopian military and militias known as Fano have clashed in towns throughout the Amhara region after the government announced plans to dismantle and integrate all regional special forces in the country. The fighting has intensified in recent weeks, with increased reports of civilian casualties.


Amhara residents have been living with the consequences of the two-year armed conflict in northern Ethiopia. The region was also managing an influx of ethnic Amhara fleeing violence and targeted attacks in the neighboring Oromia region.


The federal government has responded to the growing violence with increased repression. The authorities blocked mobile internet access in early April and have arrested at least eight journalists reporting on the unrest. On August 4, Ethiopia’s federal cabinet declared a six-month state of emergency and placed the Amhara region under a military command post accountable to the prime minister.


Previous states of emergency declarations under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration resulted in mass arrests, prolonged arbitrary detentions, politically motivated charges, and unlawful restrictions on movement and communication.


Though the emergency declaration still needs approval from parliament, the current text contains sweeping restrictions on a range of actions that could undermine basic rights. It grants the government far-reaching powers to arrest criminal suspects without a court order, impose curfews, ban public gatherings, and carry out searches without a warrant. While currently limited to Amhara, the declaration could be extended to “any area of the country as necessary.” Federal police in the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa, have already arrested Christian Tadele, an opposition member of parliament and outspoken critic of the ruling party and the government’s actions in the Amhara region.


Despite the growing violence, Ethiopia’s regional and international partners have remained largely silent. They should forcefully urge the government to protect civilians in conflict-affected areas and respect basic rights. After years of rights crises throughout the country, now is not the time for concerned governments to ease up their scrutiny and pressure. The full article can be found here.

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