Europe
openarms

Italy: Salvini to stand trial on kidnapping charges

Former deputy prime minister and current leader of Italy’s right-wing League party Matteo Salvini must stand trial for kidnapping, a Palermo judge ruled. The charges concern an incident in August 2019 in which he barred 147 migrants who had been rescued by Barcelona-based NGO Open Arms from disembarking at a Sicilian port. An indictment of the former minister was requested by Open Arms and nine migrants who were on board the vessel,¬†which had been blocked for 19 days off the coast of Lampedusa. (Photo via Twitter)

Planet Watch
Narsaq

Mining project behind Greenland political upheaval

In snap elections, Greenland’s indigenous-led left-environmentalist party Inuit Ataqatigiit(Community of the People) won 37% of the vote, overtaking the longtime incumbents, the social-democratic Siumut (Forward) party. At the center of the race was a contentious mining project that Inuit Ataqatigiit aggressively campaigned against. The Kvanefjeld rare-earth mineral project, near Narsaq in Greenland’s south, has divided the territory’s political system for more than a decade. Greenland Minerals, the Australian company behind the project, says the mine has the “potential to become the most significant Western world producer of rare earths,” adding that it would also produce uranium. But the Chinese giant Shenghe Resourcesowns 11% of Greenland Minerals‚ÄĒraising concerns about Beijing’s perceived design to establish control over the planet’s rare earth minerals.¬†(Photo of Narsaq via Polar Connection)

Europe
Dardanelles

Strategic strait at issue in Turkish naval purge

Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 10 senior navy officers a day after 104 officers¬†released a letter defending the Montreux Doctrine‚ÄĒa 1936 agreement protecting passage of international shipping through¬†the straits of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles.¬†The letter was critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdońüan‚Äôs Istanbul Canal project, a plan to construct a waterway between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, running parallel to the Bosphorus. Erdońüan¬†insists that the new canal would not be subject to the Montreux Doctrine. The officers were¬†arrested on charges of conspiring¬†to commit “a crime against the security of the state.” (Map: French Navy via PopulationData.net)

Europe
Hasél

Spain: protests follow arrest of Catalan rapper

The arrest of Catalan rapper Pablo Has√©l on charges of glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy has sparked angry protests in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and other Spanish cities. Facing charges in relation to his tweets and song lyrics, Has√©l barricaded himself alongside supporters inside Catalonia’s University of Lleida. His supporters sprayed fire-extinguishers at troops when the building was raided by the Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra. As he was led away, supporters shouted, “They will never silence us; death to the fascist state!” Has√©l was turned over to Spanish authorities to begin serving a nine-month term. Angry protests immediately broke out, with several demonstrators arrested that night. Protests have continued throughout the week. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Europe
crimea

ECHR to rule on Russian rights violations in Crimea

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) announced that it will hear a case by Ukraine alleging human rights violations by Russia in the Crimean Peninsula. The peninsula was unilaterally annexed by Russia in 2014. Soon after Russian forces seized control there, Moscow oversaw a referendum in which Crimea, which has a Russian-speaking majority, voted to join Russia. The results of this referendum were deemed illegal by Ukraine and the West. In addition to the legality of the annexation, human rights violations in the peninsula have been a cause of great concern. There have been claims of violations on 12 counts, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and persecution of Crimean Tatars. The issue was brought forth by Ukraine for adjudication by the ECHR, which has agreed to take up the case. (Photo: chief39/Pixabay)

Europe

Europe rights court finds abuses in Maidan protests

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)¬†unanimously held that there had been multiple violations of the European Convention on Human Rights during the 2013-14 Maidan protestsin Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities that led to the removal and flight of President Viktor Yanukovych. The court gave judgments in five cases having a total of 38 applicants who were either present at or played a role in the protests. They had all faced the police or non-state agents under police control (or titushky), and alleged police brutality, unjustified detention, and the denial of their right to protest. The ECHR stated that law enforcement officials and non-state agents had used “excessive and sometimes brutal force” against peaceful protesters, resulting in the escalation of violence. (Photo: Sasha Maksymenko via Flickr)

Planet Watch
Line 3

Global petro-resistance greets 2021

As the year comes to a close, Native American activists and their allies in Minnesota are launching a weekly protest vigil against the planned Line 3 pipeline, that would bring more Canadian shale-oil to US markets. The¬†self-proclaimed “water protectors” pledge to continue the campaign into the winter. The Conservation Council of Western Australia¬†meanwhile launched¬†legal challenge against approval of the new Burrup Hub liquified natural gas facility,¬†asserting that¬†it is¬†the “most polluting fossil fuel project ever to be proposed in Australia,” and “undermines global efforts [to mitigate climate change] under the Paris Agreement.”¬†While Denmark has pledged to end North Sea oil exploitation by 2050 as a step toward meeting the Paris accord goals, other Scandinavian governments remain intransigent. The Supreme Court of Norway¬†has¬†upheld¬†a judgment allowing the government to grant oil licenses in new sections of the country’s continental shelf. The decision was challenged by environmental groups including¬†Nature & Youth Norway, who claimed that it violates the European Convention on Human Rights. (Photo: Stop Line 3)

Europe
Ukraine

ICC prosecutor to open investigation into Ukraine

The International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor said that a preliminary examination has found that there is a reasonable basis to believe crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed in Ukraine, justifying the opening of an investigation. The preliminary examination was opened in 2014 when Ukraine, not formally a member of the ICC, lodged a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, accepting the jurisdiction of the court over possible crimes committed on its territory. Some of the war crimes allegations concern Crimea, a Ukrainian territory that was unilaterally occupied and annexed by Russia in March 2014. Ukraine is accepting the court’s jurisdiction while Russia does not, which could open a dilemma for the ICC.¬†(Map via¬†Perry-Casta√Īeda Library Map Collection)

Africa
Liberia

Liberian warlord goes on trial in Switzerland

A trial opened in Switzerland¬†for the first Liberian to face war crimes charges over atrocities during the country’s brutal internal conflict in the 1990s. Former warlord Alieu Kosiah stands accused of murder, rape, recruiting child soldiers, and numerous other crimes during the first of Liberia’s two civil wars, which together killed some 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003. Kosiah, who had been living in Switzerland since 1999, was arrested in November 2014 for atrocities he allegedly committed as a commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia (ULIMO) between 1993 and 1995. A group of Liberian victims is being represented by the Swiss human rights group Civitas Maxima. The case is being heard under the principle of universal jurisdiction. (Photo: IRIN via JusticeInfo)

Europe
NCRI

Belgium: Iranian diplomat on trial over bomb plot

Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi and three Iranian-Belgians went on trial in Antwerp, Belgium, marking the first time an EU country has put an Iranian official on trial for terrorism. The four are charged with planning an attack on a rally of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in 2018. The NCRI is political wing of the exiled Iranian opposition group, Mujahedin-e Khalq, which is seeking to overthrow the Islamic Republic. Assadi served at Tehran’s embassy in Vienna and is believed to have been working for Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. (Photo of 2018 rally in Paris via NCRI)

Europe
paris protest

France: mass protests over new security law

Police and demonstrators clashed in Paris as some 45,000 filled the streets to protest a new security law, with large mobilizations also seen in Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier and Nantes. The new law would severely restrict publishing of the images of police officers. The issue was given greater urgency by video footage of Paris police savagely beating local Black music producer Michel Zecler days earlier. President Emmanuel Macron said the images “shame us,” but critics point out that their release could have been barred if his new security law had already been in force.¬†(Photo:¬†@T_Bouhafs)

Europe
KLA

Kosovo president resigns to face war crimes court

President Hashim Thaci resigned and traveled to The Hague to turn himself in after the Kosovo Specialist Chambers formally confirmed his indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the 1990s armed conflict against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) for Kosovo’s independence. Thaci was indicted on crimes of persecution, imprisonment, illegal or arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, murder, and enforced disappearance, that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is said to have committed against opponents. Opponents included persons who were or were perceived to have been collaborating with FRY authorities, and persons of Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities. Thaci held a leadership position with the KLA. (Photo of Kosova Liberation Army via IBNA)