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International Legal News

Weekly update: 22 November – 28 November 2021 The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 22 November to 28 November 2021.

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 for consideration.

United States (US) – 22 November 2021

The US has been added to an annual list of “backsliding” democracies for the first time, the International IDEA thinktank has said, pointing to a “visible deterioration” it said began in 2019. Globally, more than one in four people live in a backsliding democracy, a proportion that rises to more than two in three with the addition of authoritarian or “hybrid” regimes, according to the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. “This year we coded the United States as backsliding for the first time, but our data suggest that the backsliding episode began at least in 2019,” it said in its report.

China – 22 November 2021

UN-appointed independent human rights experts urged the Chinese authorities to release on humanitarian grounds, imprisoned citizen journalist and human rights defender, Zhang Zhan. According to the UN experts, who are appointed by the Human Rights Council, the 38-year-old woman has been detained in Shanghai since May 2020. She is serving a four-year sentence on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and was originally arrested after posting online a video that criticised the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, the experts explained. They added that she was accused of spreading false information and stirring up negative sentiment about the epidemic in Wuhan.

United Kingdom (UK) – 23 November 2021

The Law Society says it is continuing to receive ‘desperate messages’ from judges and lawyers in Afghanistan and is urging the Home Office to open a new resettlement scheme immediately. Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We have received scores of desperate messages from people who dedicated their lives to building Afghanistan’s justice system and upholding the rule of law and are now in hiding with their families. Judges, lawyers, prosecutors and others who worked in the justice system tell us they are receiving death threats from the Taliban and prisoners they helped convict - many of them terrorists - who are now roaming the country seeking revenge on those who brought them to justice.”

Sudan – 23 November 2021

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that security forces have repeatedly used excessive force, including lethal force, against demonstrators in and around Khartoum. Sixteen people were shot dead on 17 November 2021, alone, including a woman and a child, the deadliest response to date. Protesters again took to the streets on 21 November, despite the announcement that the prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, had been released and had signed a deal with the military. Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa director at HRW, stated that, “the ruthless killing of 16 people on November 17, many shot in the head, shows clearly that Sudan’s security forces had no intention of exercising restraint, but are bent on silencing Sudanese voices”, adding that “Sudan’s backers should not, in the name of political expediency, let these crimes go unanswered nor those responsible get away with them.”

Central African Republic – 24 November 2021

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in the Central African Republic has arrested and brought charges against a government minister for war crimes and crimes against humanity in an important step for justice. A detention hearing for the minister, a former armed group leader, Hassan Bouba Ali, known as Hassan Bouba, will be held on 26 November 2021, based on a court order seen by HRW. Bouba was a leader of the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (Unité pour la Paix en Centrafrique, UPC), a rebel group that emerged out of the fractured Seleka coalition. In 2017 he was named a special councilor to the president, then named the minister of livestock and animal health in December 2020. Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at HRW, said that “the UPC is responsible for many serious crimes in the Central African Republic since 2014” and that “Bouba’s arrest sends a strong message that even the most powerful can find themselves subject to the reach of the law and gives hope to the many victims of UPC crimes that they may one day see justice.”

INTERPOL – 25 November 2021

Global police agency Interpol has elected UAE Inspector General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, who has been accused of overseeing torture, as its new president. The elections have been postponed by a year due to the pandemic. In October 2020, 19 human rights groups criticised Raisi's candidacy for Interpol president, saying his presidency would "both undermine the mission and reputation of Interpol and severely impact the ability of the organization to carry out its mission effectively and in good faith."

United Kingdom (UK) – 25 November 2021

Three young people are taking legal action against the prime minister, accusing him of breaching his legal obligations to take “practical and effective measures” to tackle the climate crisis. In a high court hearing in London, Adetola Onamade, 24, Jerry Amokwandoh, 22, and Marina Tricks, 20, claimed the government was breaching their rights under the Human Rights Act to life and to family life by failing to do what was necessary to avert environmental disaster.

International Criminal Court (ICC) – 25 November 2021

A panel of three judges of the Appeals Chamber of the ICC, appointed to review Mr. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi's sentence, decided to reduce his nine-year sentence of imprisonment by two years. The date for the completion of his sentence is therefore set to 18 September 2022. In reaching their decision, Judges Solomy Balungi Bossa, presiding, Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and Gocha Lordkipanidze, considered several factors in relation to this review, including the possible social instability in Northern Mali that early release may cause, Mr Al Mahdi's prospect for resocialisation and resettlement and his cooperation since he was surrendered to the Court in September 2015. Mindful of the views expressed by the Republic of Mali and the victims, the Judges considered that any reduction of sentence should not be applied to the entirety of Mr Al Mahdi's remaining term of imprisonment.

Brazil – 26 November 2021

Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee for more than two decades, has been sentenced to 30 years and 11 months in jail for allegedly buying votes for Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympics. Nuzman, who also headed the Rio 2016 organising committee, was found guilty of corruption, criminal organisation, money laundering and tax evasion.


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