Germany recognizes Holodomor as genocide

The German Bundestag¬†voted to formally recognize the Holodomor, a politically induced famine that decimated Ukraine in 1932-3, as a genocide. The declaration found that Soviet authorities demanded inflated quantities of grain from Ukrainian farmers and punished those who fell short with additional demands. Affected regions were cut off from the rest of the Soviet Union so that Ukrainians could not receive aid. As a result, approximately 3.5 million Ukrainians starved to death. The Bundestag characterized¬†the Holodomor as a project of Joseph Stalin to suppress the Ukrainian “way of life, language and culture,” and one of the most “unimaginable crimes against humanity” in Europe’s history. The motion also recognized Germany’s own history of genocide and the Bundestag’s “special responsibility” to acknowledge and condemn crimes against humanity.¬†Ukraine declared the Holodomor a genocide in 2006. (Photo: 2019¬†Holodomor remembrance¬†in Kyiv. Credit: EuroMaidan Press)

North Mara

Tanzania villagers sue Barrick Gold over rights abuses

A group of Tanzanian villagers¬†filed legal action with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Canadian mining company Barrick Gold over human rights violations at its North Mara Gold Mine. It marks the first time that the mining company has faced legal action in Canada for rights violations abroad. The plaintiffs, members of the indigenous Kurya community in northern Tanzania, allege that special “mine police” assigned by the security forces to protect the facility use extreme violence against local residents. The mine has been the site of repeated protests over environmental degradation and forced displacement of villagers. The legal action includes claims for five deaths, five incidents of torture and five injuries from shootings. (Map via Semantic Scholar)


Swiss oil CEO faces trial for Sudan war crimes

The Supreme Court of Sweden¬†ruled that the trial of Alex Schneiter, a Swiss citizen and former CEO of Lundin Oil charged in connection with war crimes in Sudan between 1999 and¬†2003, may proceed in the Swedish courts. While Lundin Oil is a Swedish-based company, Schneiter claims that he cannot be tried in Sweden because he is neither a citizen nor a resident. The high court held that Schneiter’s alleged crimes are subject to “universal jurisdiction,” which allows anyone to be prosecuted anywhere in the world for serious international crimes. The case concerns an area called Block 5A in southern Sudan, which was then wracked by a pro-independence insurgency.¬†The¬†indictment holds that Lundin demanded that government forces and allied militias provide security for its operations, knowing that this would¬†entail deadly force and enflame the conflict.¬†(Map via Rixstep)

East Asia
Hong Kong

Hong Kong: first conviction under Anthem Ordinance

A Hong Kong court sentenced citizen journalist Paula Leung to three months in prison‚ÄĒthe first conviction under the territory’s National Anthem Ordinance. The law was enacted in Hong Kong on June 12, 2020, pursuant to an act passed by the People’s Republic of China in September 2017, which mandated that the semi-autonomous city bring its legal code into conformity. According to regional news outlets, Leung attended a mall screening of Olympic fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long receiving his gold medal on July 30, 2021. During the playing of the Chinese national anthem, attendees waved the colonial-era Hong Kong flag. This¬†was found to be in violation of Article 7 of the law, which makes it a criminal offense to “insult the national anthem,” punishable by up to three years imprisonment. (Photo: VOA via Jurist)


Ukraine: Russia accused of forced transfer of civilians

Russian forces have committed war crimes and likely crimes against humanity by unlawfully transferring or deporting civilians from occupied parts of in Ukraine to Russia or Russian-controlled territory, according to an Amnesty International report. Russian and Russian-backed authorities have also forced civilians through an abusive screening process known as “filtration,”¬†during which some were arbitrarily detained, subject to torture or other ill-treatment, and separated from their children.¬†(Map: PCL)

The Andes

Peru: bill to exempt miners from oversight

Peru’s¬†Ministry of Environment (MINAM)¬†issued a¬†statement rejecting the Congress’ approval of Bill 412, which exempts bankrupt mining companies from complying with environmental certifications. The bill, introduced by the right-wing Popular Force bloc, establishes special measures for companies in asset restructuring. After the bill‚Äôs text was approved, the Executive Branch raised concerns, and sent it back to Congress for further review. However, the Congressional leadership approved the text a second time, and it was passed by a vote in plenary. MINAM’s statement said the law is “unviable since it allows mining companies in a precarious economic situation…to have a legal argument that will affect the health of the population and that does not guarantee care for the environment.” MINAM called on Congress to re-evaluate the law a second time. (Photo: WikimediaCommons)


ICC rules Afghanistan investigation may proceed

Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC)¬†authorized prosecutors to resume their investigation into atrocities committed in Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, following a two-year hiatus. The Chamber found “that Afghanistan is not presently carrying out genuine investigations.” The Chamber emphasized that the authorization is limited to crimes falling within the conflict as it existed at the time of the original investigation request in November 2017. The Chamber rejected that request in April 2019. This decision was overturned by the Appeals Chamber in March 2020. However, the investigation was halted following a¬†request from the government of Afghanistan. ICC prosecutor Karim AA Khan sought to review the deferral in September 2021. At that time, Khan said he concluded,“there is no longer the prospect of genuine and effective domestic investigations into Article 5 crimes within Afghanistan.”¬†(Photo: ICC)


UN documents damage to cultural sites in Ukraine

A preliminary report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO)¬†revealed the extent of damage to Ukraine’s cultural heritage since Russia invaded in February. UNESCO verified damage¬†to 207 cultural sites, including 88 religious sites, 15 museums, 76 buildings of historic or artistic interest, 18 monuments, and 10 libraries. The report is sourced from satellite images taken before and after the start of the¬†war by both the UN and private companies. UNESCO defines cultural properties under Article 1 of the 1954 Hague Convention. The worst damage was found to be in Donetsk region, now declared annexed by Russia, with 59 damaged sites. (Photo: damaged statue of Ukrainian national poet Taras Shevchenko in Borodyanka. Via Euromaidan Press)


UN report: occupation of Palestine ‘unlawful’

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,¬†released its second report, stating there are “reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government’s de-facto annexation policies.” The commission called for the UN Security Council to bring to an end the “illegal situation resulting from the permanent occupation imposed by Israel” and require Israel to bring “its permanent occupation to an end immediately.”¬†(Photo: RJA1988 via Jurist)


Nigeria drops ‘terrorism’ charges against Biafra separatist

The Nigerian Court of Appeal¬†dismissed all terrorism charges against Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of separatist group the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Nigerian authorities have identified IPOB as a “terrorist organization,” but international organizations including the Council on Foreign Relations disagree with the designation, and are urging the US not to adopt it.¬†Amnesty International welcomed the judgement, stating that Kanu’s right to a fair hearing was violated. Amnesty said that Nigeria must now “abide by the ruling, in compliance with its human rights obligations.” (Photo: Alisdare Hickson/Flickr)


UN appoints rapporteur on human rights in Russia

Citing the criminalization of protest and dissent, the UN Human Rights Council voted to create a special rapporteur for Russia. The resolution authorizes the rapporteur to operate for a year, with a mandate to monitor the rights situation in the Russian Federation; to collect and assess relevant information from all stakeholders; to make recommendations; and to present comprehensive reports to the Council and to the General Assembly. The move marks the first time that the Human Rights Council has set up a special rapporteur to examine the rights record of a permanent member of the Security Council. (Photo via Critical Mass)

Central African Republic

ICC war crimes trial for CAR militia leader opens

The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened a trial¬†against Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, a leader of the S√©l√©ka rebel group, for crimes humanity and war crimes in violation of the Rome Statute. Said allegedly committed these crimes in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), in 2013. The S√©l√©ka carried out widespread reprisals against supporters of ousted¬†president Fran√ßois Boziz√© after taking the capital that year.¬†Said pleaded not guilty to all charges. The CAR is also to carry out its own war crimes trials related to the internal conflict. (Map via Perry-Casta√Īeda Library Map Collection)