Palestine
jordanvalley2

UN rights chief: West Bank annexation ‘illegal’

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on Israel to halt its efforts to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Israel plans to annex settlements in the West Bank, as well as areas of the Jordan Valley, in the coming days. Bachelet said that, regardless of how much land Israel tries to annex, such a move is illegal. She added that while the consequences of annexation would be hard to predict, “they are likely to be disastrous for the Palestinians, for Israel itself, and for the wider region.” (Photo: Ma’an News Agency)

North America
border wall

Appeals court strikes down funding for border wall

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 that President Trump lacked constitutional authority to transfer Defense Department funds for use in the construction of a wall along the Mexican border. The court found that the transfer of $2.5 billion circumvented Congress, which had previously denied requests for the funding. The panel affirmed a district court’s judgment “holding that budgetary transfers of funds for the construction of a wall on the southern border of the United States in California and New Mexico were not authorized under the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2019.” (Photo via Jurist)

Central America
el-salvador-jesuit-priests-murder

Ex-Salvador military officer goes on trial in Spain

A former Salvador military commander, Inocente Montano, went on trial in Spain, accused of ordering the murder of six Spanish Jesuit priests in 1989. Two Salvadoran women were also killed in the incident. Montano was formerly held in the US, but was extradited to Spain in 2017. Ex-colonel Montano was vice-minister of public security in El Salvador during its civil war from 1979-1992. Montano commanded troops believed to be responsible for at least 1,169 human rights violations. Additionally, prosecutors believe Montano was part of the paramilitary group La Tandona that carried out extrajudicial executions. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Africa
BLM

African countries call on UN to investigate racism in US

African countries are urging the UN Human Rights Council to investigate systemic racism and police violence in the United States, according to a draft resolution. Diplomats received the resolution ahead of a debate at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to be convened on the question at the request of Burkina Faso. The draft resolution calls for the establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry (COI)—a measure normally used in response to a major crisis, such as the armed conflict in Syria. The resolution states that the COI should be empowered to “establish facts and circumstances related to the systemic racism, alleged violations of international human rights law and abuses against Africans and of people of African descent in the United States.” (Photo: The Village Sun)

Africa
darfur suspect

Darfur war crimes suspect transferred to Hague

Sudanese militia leader and war crimes suspect Ali Kushayb was arrested by authorities in the Central African Republic, and turned over to the International Criminal Court (ICC). His apprehension comes more than 13 years after an arrest warrant was issued for him, detailing 22 charges of crimes against humanity and 28 war crimes charges, including murder, rape and pillage. The warrant asserts that Kushayb commanded thousands of Janjaweed militia fighters from 2003-4, personally taking part in the rape and murder of civilians in villages during the Darfur conflict. (Photo via Radio Dabanga)

North America
Lafayette Park

Protesters sue Trump over constitutional violations

Black Lives Matter DC and other protesters have filed a lawsuit asserting that their ouster from Lafayette Square near the White House on June 1 violated both their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly and their Fourth Amendment right of freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. The complaint states that the US Secret Service, US Park Police, DC National Guard and US Military Police unleashed tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and flash bombs on peaceful protesters, without provocation, in order to clear a path for President Donald Trump to walk to a photo opportunity at a nearby church. Plaintiffs argue that this action was intentional as evidenced by Trump’s statements about protesters, referring to them as “THUGS” in his tweets. Further, in his phone call with governors, Trump stated they must take harsher actions to “dominate” protesters, and his Secretary of Defense Mark Esper stated that governors need to “dominate the battlespace.” (Photo: GGWash.org)

Planet Watch
NORILSK

Russia: state of emergency after Arctic oil spill

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency after 20,000 tons of diesel oil leaked into a river within the Arctic Circle. The spill went unreported for two days, which may have caused irreparable damage to the ecologically fragile region. The spill was caused by rupture of a fuel tank at a power plant run by Nornickel, the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer. The Russian government has launched a criminal case over the pollution and alleged negligence. The spill has caused large portions of the Ambarnaya River to turn a dark crimson, and is believed to be the second-largest in Russian history. An area of at least 350 square kilometers has been contaminated. (Photo: Russian Civil Defense via TASS)

Planet Watch
ICC

ICC complaint filed over COVID-19

The Canadian Institute for International Law Expertise (CIFILE) has asked the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate individual world leaders and the World Health Organization (WHO) for alleged international crimes relating to their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group states that past disease outbreaks, including SARS, suggest that the director-general of the WHO should have notified nations well before the initial March 11 notification date. The complaint asserts that the response to the pandemic constitutes a “crime against humanity” under Article 7(k) of the Rome Statute. The complaint further states that the ICC may exercise jurisdiction over international crimes under Articles 12 and 13 when a member state of the ICC has been affected. Specifically the complaint cites Canada as an affected signatory to the Rome Statute. (Photo: WikiMedia via Jurist)

Iraq
Iraqi_female_protester

Detainee amnesty as Iraq protests re-emerge

Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council ordered courts to release all protesters jailed since anti–government demonstrations erupted last October. The Council cited Article 38 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to protest. This order comes days after Prime Minister Mustafa al–Kadhimi addressed the nation, promising to “hold to account all those who shed Iraqi blood” during months of political unrest, and urging parliament to reform the electoral laws. Al–Kadhimi’s address spurred a new wave of nationwide protests, demanding immediate government action on political reform. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Africa
Sudanese_Women

Sudan outlaws female genital mutilation

Sudan’s new government officially criminalized female genital mutilation (FGM), in a reform of the legal code hailed by the UNICEF representative in the country. Although FGM is still widely practiced in other countries where it has been criminalized—such as in Egypt—the amendment has been praised as a step in the right direction for women’s rights in Sudan. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Greater Middle East
KSA

Saudi Arabia abolishes flogging, execution of minors

Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court announced that it has abolished flogging as a form of punishment, part of a series of reforms to advance human rights in the kingdom. Court-ordered floggings sometimes extended to hundreds of lashes, and the punishment could be imposed for offenses such as extramarital sex and breach of the peace. The ruling came along with a royal decree ending the death penalty for individuals convicted of crimes when they were minors. These reforms follow unprecedented international criticism that Saudi Arabia received in 2019 for its human rights record, which included 184 executions, 84 of which were for non-violent drug crimes. (Photo: Pixabay via Jurist)

South Asia
bangabandhu

Bangladesh arrests fugitive in assassination of founder

Bangladeshi counter-terrorism authorities announced the arrest in Dhaka of Abdul Majed, who faces the death penalty for involvement in the 1975 assassination of the country’s founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Independence leader Rahman served as the country’s first prime minister from 1971 until the 1975 coup in which he was killed along with his family. Majed has publicly admitted his involvement in the massacre, but, like the others involved, faced no legal consequences during the 15-year period of military rule following the coup. In 1998, he was tried in absentia and sentenced to death. (Photo: Bangabandhu Commission)