Syria
Saydnaya

US imposes sanctions on Syria prisons, rebels

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on eight prisons run by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s intelligence unit, for human rights abuses against political prisoners and other detainees. Additionally, OFAC added five senior security officials of Assad’s regime who control the detention facilities to the Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals & Blocked Persons List. According to OFAC, the regime has imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Syrians during the war, of whom at least 14,000 have been tortured to death, with a further 130,000 missing and believed to be under arbitrary detention. OFAC also placed sanctions on Syrian armed rebel group Ahrar al-Sharqiya and two of its leaders for abuses against civilians. (Image: Syria Untold)

Palestine
settlement

UN investigator: Israeli settlement is ‘war crime’

A UN human rights investigator announced that Israeli settlement of the West Bank and East Jerusalem meets the definition of a war crime. Special rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories, Michael Lynk, addressed a Geneva meeting of the Human Rights Council, in which he gave a report on whether the settlements violate the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Lynk concluded that Israeli behavior falls under the jurisdiction of the ICC. He accused Israel of not being “serious about peace” because of its ongoing defiance of the Rome Statute. Israel, which does not recognize the special rapporteur’s mandate nor cooperate with his office, was not present at the meeting. (Photo: delayed gratification via New Jewish Resistance)

Africa
darfur suspect

Sudan militia leader to face war crimes trial

Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a decision unanimously confirming charges against Sudanese militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman. Consequently, Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, was committed to trial before an ICC trial chamber. Abd-Al-Rahman was a top commander of the Janjaweed militia, and a senior leader in the tribal hierarchy of Wadi Salih locality, Central Darfur state. He is also a leader of the Popular Defense Forces, the more regularized successor to the Janjaweed. He is alleged to have led pro-government campaigns against Darfur rebel groups, ultimately displacing 40,000 and murdering 300 civilians.. (Photo via Radio Dabanga)

Africa
Debre Marqos

Ethiopia: ceasefire over humanitarian concerns

Ethiopia’s federal government announced a ceasefire in Tigray region, citing humanitarian concerns. The Ethiopian National Defense Force and the federally-recognized Provisional Tigray Administration left Tigray’s capital as part of the ceasefire, pausing eight months of war. The Tigray Defense Force, loyal to the ousted regional government and now in rebellion, has not agreed to the ceasefire, and the United Nations is urging the TDF to join. The UN estimates that the war has displaced 1.7 million persons. In addition, it estimates that 400,000 face famine, with 1.8 million more “on the brink of famine” due to the conflict. (Photo of youth peace demonstration in Debre Marqos by Yonas Bosco via VOA)

North America
PennEast Pipeline

SCOTUS: pipeline companies may take state property

The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey that the Natural Gas Act grants private companies authority to take state-owned property to build interstate pipelines. PennEast Pipeline obtained a certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build a 116-mile gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and sought to exercise its federal eminent domain authority by taking public land in New Jersey. The state of New Jersey moved to dismiss the company’s request on sovereign immunity grounds. A district court ruled in favor of PennEast Pipeline, but the Third Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the order. In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court reinstated the district court order in favor of PennEast Pipeline. (Photo via WHYY)

Greater Middle East
Istanbul pride

Turkish police disperse Istanbul pride parade

Turkish riot police used tear-gas and rubber bullets to disrupt Istanbul’s annual pride parade after the the governor’s office refused to grant a permit for the event. Police arrested dozens of marchers, as well as journalists who were covering the event. The police attack comes amid a period of mounting hostility against the nation’s LGBTIQ+ community. The pride parade has been held annually since 2003, despite being officially banned since 2014. Videos shared on social media show hundreds of people gathered on Istiklal Ave., a popular tourist destination, chanting “Rainbow is not a crime, discrimination is.” (Image via Madonna Turkey)

Planet Watch
First Nations

Canada law recognizing UNDRIP gets royal assent

A bill by the Canadian Parliament recognizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and establishing a framework for its implementation received Royal Assent. The legislation requires the government of Canada to take measures for bringing the country’s laws into alignment with the UNDRIP as well as preparing an action plan for achieving its objectives. But some advocates for Indigenous peoples’ rights are concerned that the new law may “Canadianize” the UNDRIP, since it is to be construed as upholding the rights of First Nations under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982—which has been subject to long-drawn legal battles over its interpretation. (Photo of anti-pipeline protest in British Columbia: Rogue Collective via Flickr)

Planet Watch
ecocide

Legal experts present definition of ecocide to ICC

After six months of deliberation, a panel of 12 independent legal experts from across the globe unveiled a working definition of “ecocide” that they hope will be adopted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The panel was organized by the Stop Ecocide Foundation, an NGO whose stated focus is facilitating the adoption of ecocide by the ICC in order to “protect future life on Earth.” The panel recommends adding section “(e) the crime of Ecocide” to Article 5(1) of the Rome Statute, with the following definition: “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment.” (Photo: Stefan Müller via Wikimedia Commons)

Southeast Asia
Mother Nature Cambodia

Cambodia: ecologists charged with insulting king

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Cambodia charged four environmental activists with conspiracy and insulting the king, a prosecutor confirmed after three activists were arrested for documenting raw sewage discharge into the Tonlé Sap River. Three of the charged conservationists were sent to pre-trial detention, while the fourth, Mother Nature Cambodia co-founder Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, was charged in absentia. The four face a sentence of up to 10 years for the conspiracy charge. The charge for insulting the king carries an additional one to five years. (Photo of Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson via Phnom Penh Post)

Europe
migrants

UN report blames EU and Libya for migrant deaths

Policy decisions of European Union member states and Libya have caused thousands of deaths along the central Mediterranean migrant route, according to a report from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. At least 2,239 migrants died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe last year. In 2021 alone, at least 632 have died along the route. According to the report, the deaths were not a “tragic anomaly,” and could have been prevented. The lack of human rights protection for migrants during their journey is a consequence of the “concrete policy decisions and practices” of Libyan authorities, the EU, and its member states. (Photo: US Navy via Wikimedia Commons)

North America
immigrants

Biden admin grants protected status for Haitians

US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced an 18-month designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This humanitarian protection allows an estimated 100,000 individuals to apply to remain lawfully in the US. Statutory grounds for TPS designation include armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. Haiti now faces political crisis and human rights abuses, security concerns, and the exacerbation of a “dire economic situation” due to COVID-19, Mayorkas found. TPS for Haitians had been revoked by the Trump administration, although the revocation never took effect due to legal challenges. (Photo: WikiMedia Commons)

Africa
Central African Republic

Chad accuses CAR troops of ‘war crime’ at border

Chad’s defense ministry charged that troops of the neighboring Central African Republic (CAR) attacked a Chadian military post, taking soldiers captive and executing them, and that this amounted to a war crime. CAR’s communications ministry said a firefight broke out by mistake when CAR troops pursued a rebel group near the Chadian border. The relationshipbetween Chad and the CAR has been tense for many years, with a history of harboring each other’s insurgent groups. Thousands of refugees have fled waves of violence related to armed insurgency in the CAR since 2013. (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)