ICC convicts Mali militant of war crimes

The International Criminal Court (ICC) convicted al-Qaeda-linked militant leader al-Hassan ag-Abdoul Aziz ag-Mohamed ag-Mahmoud of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in terrorizing the civilian population of the Malian city of Timbuktu. The charges against al-Hassan stem from his time as de facto leader of the Islamic Police, an unofficial enforcement body established by armed Islamist groups when they controlled the city between 2012 and 2013. The group patrolled the city day and night, imposing harsh new rules that severely restricted daily life. The force imposed extreme punishments, including flogging and amputation, for such perceived violations of Islamic law as extramarital relations, alcohol consumption, and smoking. The Court found that al-Hassan played a “key role” in the Islamic Police throughout the period of of control of Timbuktu by Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).  (Map: PCL)


ECHR: Russia liable for rights violations in Crimea

Ruling in the case Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea), the European Court of Human Rights unanimously found that Russia is guilty of a pattern of human rights violations since 2014 in Crimea, as codified under under the European Convention on Human Rights and international humanitarian law. These violations included ill-treatment, intimidation, disappearances, forced Russian citizenship, and suppression of Ukrainian media and press. (Photo: chief39/Pixabay)

The Andes
Bolivia coup

Bolivia: coup attempt collapses, top general arrested

In an apparent coup attempt against Bolivia’s President Luis Arce, military vehicles surrounded the presidential palace in La Paz—with one ramming open the building’s front doors. Arce took to Twitter to denounce the “irregular mobilization of some units of the Bolivian Army,” and called for democracy to be respected. As La Paz residents converged on Plaza Murillo to confront the troops outside the palace, Arce officially dismissed armed forces commander Gen. Juan JosĂ© Zúñiga, replacing him with Gen. JosĂ© Sánchez—who promptly issued orders for all troops to return to barracks. This caused the occupying troops to retreat from the plaza. Shortly thereafter, Zúñiga was arrested. Upon being taken into custody, Zúñiga told reporters that the apparent coup attempt had been requested by Arce himself to “rehabilitate his popularity.” This theory has been aggressively taken up by Bolivia’s opposition, but crowds continue to show up in Plaza Murillo in huge numbers to support Arce’s government. (Photo via Twitter)

Sde Teiman

Israel high court responds to prison abuse revelations

Israel’s Supreme Court issued an order demanding the Benjamin Netanyahu government provide an update on conditions in the Sde Teiman detention facility, where the government has been holding Palestinian detainees from the war in Gaza. The order came in response to a challenge from a constellation of human rights organizations, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights—Israel (PHRI), and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, seeking to shut down the prison over allegations of harsh abuses there. Sde Teiman, in the Negev desert, was the focus of a CNN investigation into the treatment of Palestinians detained during Israel’s war with Hamas. Whistleblowers from the detention center spoke to CNN, describing scenes of torture and severe dehumanizing conditions. (Photo of blindfolded prisoners inside of the camp, released by an anonymous whistleblower in May 2024. Via Twitter, obtained by CNN)


Russia suppressing Ukrainian language in occupied areas: report

A Human Rights Watch report finds that Russian authorities have violated human rights obligations by suppressing the Ukrainian language and injecting propaganda into educational curricula in occupied Ukrainian territories. Changes to school curricula include an array of disinformation aimed at justifying Russia’s invasion and portraying Ukraine as a “neo-Nazi state.” Russian authorities have also introduced military training in schools, mirroring the resurgence of youth military training in Russia, and require secondary schools to send lists of all students aged 18 and up for conscription into the Russian military. International law prohibits forced enlistment of an occupied population into the occupier’s military. (Map: PCL)

East Asia

China: death penalty for advocating ‘Taiwan independence’

China instated the death penalty for “particularly serious” cases involving supporters of Taiwanese independence. New judicial guidelines, entitled “Opinions on Punishing the Crimes of Splitting the Country & Inciting Splitting the Country by ‘Taiwan Independence’ Diehards,” were jointly issued by the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Justice. The new standards stipulate severe punishments for those identified as leaders or significant participants in secessionist activities, and classify actions causing “significant harm to the state and its people” as offenses that may result in the death penalty. (Photo: shutterbean/Pixabay via Jurist)

East Asia

Russia-DPRK defense pact: Cold War redux

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a mutual defense assistance pact during Putin’s first visit to Pyongyang since 2000. According to a statement from the Russian government, the Treaty on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership stipulates “mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties thereto.” Article 4 of the pact states: “If either side faces an armed invasion and is in a state of war, the other side will immediately use all available means to provide military and other assistance.” While full details were not made public, this appears to revive provisions of the 1961 treaty between the Soviet Union and North Korea that stipulated automatic military intervention if either nation came under attack. (Photo: gfs_mizuta/Pixabay via Jurist)

Mexico City

Mexico: amnesty decree stirs human rights concerns

Mexico’s government added an article to its Amnesty Law in a decree, allowing the head of the Executive Branch to commute sentences and halt criminal proceedings in cases deemed “relevant to the Mexican State,” regardless of the severity of the crime. President AndrĂ©s Manuel LĂłpez Obrador stated that change will contribute to uncovering the truth about such unresolved cases as the collective killings of Ayotzinapa and Tlatlaya. However, the Amnesty Law reform has faced strong criticism. For instance, Mexico City’s Human Rights Commission argues that it lacks clear limits on which crimes qualify, leaving a dangerously vague opening for amnesty in any case the president deems “relevant.” Sen. Patricia Mercado of the opposition Citizen’s Movement also rejected the notion that the decree will aid truth-seeking, pointing out that it lacks conditions such as disarmament, non-repetition, victim reparations, and education requirements found in amnesty efforts such as that in Colombia’s Peace Accords. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Central America
Honduras prison

Honduras implements ‘Crime Solution Plan’

The National Defense & Security Council of Honduran President Xiomara Castro announced a sweeping plan to crack down on crime and safeguard public security. The Crime Solution Plan calls on the Defense and Security secretaries to immediately execute interventions in municipalities with the highest incidence of major gang-related crimes, such as assassination, extortion, kidnapping, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, and money laundering. The plan additionally calls for construction of an Emergency Detention Center with a capacity for 20,000 prisoners. Finally, the plan directs the National Congress to reform the Penal Code to classify those who commit major gang-related crimes as “terrorists,” and mandate pretrial detention for those who commit such crimes. (Photo via OHCHR)

Planet Watch

Record 117 million forcibly displaced worldwide: UN

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that a record number of 117.3 million people around the world were forcibly displaced as of the end of 2023. The agency expects this number to rise to over 120 million cases by the end of this year, especially noting the situations in Sudan, Burma and Palestine. The conflict in Sudan that began in April 2023 has led to 6 million becoming internally displaced persons (IDPs) with 1.2 million people forced into neighboring countries as refugees. In Burma, conflict since the military coup of 2021 has resulted in 1.2 million IDPs, while over 75% of the population in Gaza was displaced between October and December amid the ongoing bombardment of the enclave. (Photo of Sudanese refugees in Chad: Henry Wilkins/VOA via Wikimedia Commons)


UN commission accuses Israel of war crimes

Israeli forces have committed war crimes and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and there are “reasonable grounds” to conclude Hamas and loyalists have done the same, a UN inquiry concluded in a new report. The report, which covers Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks on Israeli civilians and the initial phase of Israel’s retaliatory invasion and bombardment of Gaza, was produced by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, & Israel (Commission). The UN Human Rights Council established the Commission in 2021 to monitor rights and humanitarian concerns in the region. (Photo: badwanart0/Pixabay via Jurist)


Hostage rescue for Israelis; ‘massacre’ for Palestinians

A joint operation by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Shin Bet, and Israeli police in the Nuseirat refugee camp of central Gaza rescued four hostages—and killed over 200 Palestinians amid pitched gun-battles in a heavy populated area. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “saluted” those involved in the operation, saying: “We will not relent until we complete the mission and return all our hostages home.” The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, described the operation as a “gruesome massacre.” Abbas has instructed Palestine’s envoy to the United Nations to request an emergency session of the Security Council over the matter. (Photo: WAFA via Jurist)