International Legal News
Weekly update: 19 November - 25 November 2019
The following media round-up of international legal and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period 19- 25 November 2019.
The Guernica Group 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 it to Nenad Vucijak for consideration.
Egypt: 19 November 2019
Egyptian authorities have carried out arrests, house raids, interrogations, and travel bans against dozens of relatives of dissidents who live abroad, apparently in reprisal for their activism. Human Rights Watch has documented 28 cases of Egyptian journalists, media workers, and political and human rights activists who have criticized the government and now live abroad. In each case, authorities have harassed or threatened one or more family members in Egypt, or in some cases subjected family members to extrajudicial punishments.
European Court of Human Rights: 19 November 2019
In the case of Obote v Russia, the European Court of Human Rights held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 11 (freedom of assembly) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned the applicant’s prosecution for taking part in a flash mob, which the courts viewed as a static demonstration requiring previous notification. The Court considered the flash mob a “peaceful assembly” and found that the reasons given by the domestic authorities to justify its dispersal and the applicant’s prosecution had not been “relevant and sufficient”.
United Kingdom: 20 November 2019
Two parents who challenged compulsory religious worship in school assembly have won the right for a secular alternative for their children. The Oxford Diocesan schools trust said a small number of pupils would be provided with alternative materials overseen by a teacher, instead of having to take part in collective worship. In their submission to the High Court in London, the parents argued that Christian worship at the school constituted indoctrination and was in breach of their right to freedom of belief under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European convention on human rights.
United States of America: 20 November 2019
Exoneration of Scott Warren is labeled a “triumph for humanity” by Amnesty International. This was the second trial Dr. Warren had faced on charges of “harbouring” two migrants, for providing them with humanitarian assistance in the town of Ajo, Arizona, where he lives. The first trial resulted in a mistrial when eight of 12 jurors could not reach a unanimous decision.
United Kingdom: 21 November 2019
A man who launched a legal challenge after police cameras digitally analysed his fact in the street is to take his case to the Court of Appeal. Ed Bridges appealed against a ruling that South Wales Police did not breach his human rights by using automated facial recognition technology; arguing that the AFR system analysed his biometric data without his knowledge or consent. Granting him leave to appeal, Lord Justice Singh said MR Bridges’ case had a “real prospect of success” on all of his grounds as it “raises such issues of public importance and issues which potentially affect large numbers of people”.
Somalia: 21 November 2019
The death of prominent Somali- Canadian human rights activist Almaas Elman, who was shot in Mogadishu on 20 November shows the risk faced by activists in the country and underlines the need for the authorities to ensure the safety of civilians. Almaas was a prominent and dedicated activist, working on social justice, women’s rights and the rehabilitation of children affected by conflict in Somalia.
European Court of Human Rights: 21 November 2019
In the case of Z.A and Others v Russia, the unanimously held there had been a violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) as well as a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the Convention. The case concerned four men who were held for long periods of time in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport while the authorities dealt with their asylum applications. Given the absence of a legal basis for their being confined to the transit zone, a situation made worse by them being impeded in accessing the asylum system, the Court concluded that there had been a violation of the applicant’s rights.
Philippines: 22 November 2019
On 23 November 2009, a hundred gunmen hired by the Ampatuan clan stopped a six-vehicle convoy and executed 58 people, including a political opponent’s family members and 32 journalists. A decade later, justice remains elusive as many suspects have not been brought to trial or remain at large. Next month, a court in Manila is expected to announce its verdict in the case; the slow process to reach this point highlights the many problems in the Philippine justice system.
Israel: 25 November 2019
Monday, 25 November saw the expulsion of the Israel and Palestine director of Human Rights Watch, a movement reflecting the authorities’ intensifying assault on human rights. The director, Omar Shakir, will depart after Israel’s Supreme Court upheld the government’s deportation order. Israel joins the likes of Venezuela, Iran, and Egypt in barring Human Rights Watch researchers.
Afghanistan: 25 November 2019
Afghanistan’s top intelligence agency must immediately release two human rights defenders it detained after they exposed alleged sexual abuse against children. Musa Mahmudi and Ehsanullah Hamidi, both well-known human rights defenders from Logar province were arbitrarily detained by the National Directorate of Security on 21 November 2019 when they were on their way to meet with the European Union ambassador in Kabul. The two human rights defenders began receiving threats on Facebook after they have interviews to The Guardian and Afghanistan’s TOLO News about the existence of a paedophile ring in the area, having uncovered more than 100 videos of the alleged abuse.
Saudi Arabia: 25 November 2019
Saudi Arabia has detained at last eight people, mostly intellectuals and writers, amid a two-year crackdown on freedom of expression in the Kingdom. They were taken from their homes in the capital Riyadh and the Red Sea port city of Jeddah last week by plain-clothes officers but the reason was unclear as to why. Riyadh denies having political prisoners, but senior officials have said that monitoring activists, and potentially detaining them, is needed to maintain social stability.
Amnesty International: 25 November 2019
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. Amnesty International is working with Woman Human Rights Defenders in Afghanistan to showcase their rare, powerful stories.