MONTHLY WRAP JANUARY 2023
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
On 20 January 2023, the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) held a formal hearing for the opening of its judicial year, attended by judges of the International Criminal Court, representatives of national jurisdictions, regional or international tribunals, the diplomatic corps. The Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr Miguel de Serpa Soares, delivered the keynote address in which he recognized the central role of the Court in the international criminal justice system.
On 26 January 2023, Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC submitted to the United Nations Security Council the 36th report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court pursuant to Resolution 1593 (2005). In his statement, the Prosecutor informed the Council about the situation in Darfur and the progress in terms of delivering on Resolution 1593.
On 17 January 2023, UNESCO declared that thanks to ratification by Andorra, the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education (Paris, 25 November 2019) will enter into force three months after the date of deposit of the 20th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, in accordance with the terms of its article XVIII.1.
On 24 January 2023, the world celebrates the International Day of Education (IDE) which was adopted by a resolution on December 2018 by the UN General Assembly. UNESCO is dedicating this year’s International Day to Afghan girls and women who have been deprived of their right to education. On this 2023 International Day of Education, UNESCO is publishing a global report, 2023 SDG 4 Scorecard which shows how fast countries are progressing towards their national education benchmarks.
On 24 January 2023, the UNODC published the “Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2022”. It has been found that the number of victims globally fell by 11 per cent in 2020 from the previous year, driven by fewer detections in low- and medium-income countries. Globally, the number of convictions for trafficking offences also fell by 27 per cent in 2020 from the previous year.
The UNEP published the Building Back Greener in the post- COVID-19 Era – Perspective Issue 42 discusses by the Green Economy Coalition. Climate change, environmental collapse, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, COVID-19, and the energy crisis are accelerating an interlinked systemic failure of current economic systems. However, this moment of flux brings an opportunity, and policymakers and citizens must decide how to respond.
UN HUMAN RIGHTS
On 4 January 2023, the Un Human Rights Chief, Volker Türk, for the 75th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, invite all governments and detaining authorities, to amnesty, pardon or simply release all those detained for exercising their human rights. People that working as environmental defenders, on climate action, or those calling out discrimination – in addition to those speaking up against abuses and corruption, journalists jailed for doing their essential work, and human rights activists.
The UN chief called for the proposed New Agenda for Peace to focus on “a holistic and comprehensive approach” to building “societies in which terror has no home”. He pointed out to need to avoid vacuums, where terrorism can breed. He described these as vacuums of security, of political and civic institutions, of opportunity and hope, and respect for human rights, equality, and dignity, especially for minorities and women and girls.
EUROPEAN PUBLIC PROSECUTOR OFFICE
The Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) in Palermo carried out a preventive seizure order of over €7 million requested by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Palermo. The suspects had obtained funds from the Sicilian Rural Development Programme (PSR Sicilia) to build a livestock farming complex. According to the investigation, they issued invoices with a higher price than the actual price of their expenses, which led to inflated invoices of over €12 million.
At the request of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Naples (Italy), the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) of Salerno seized over €160 000 on 26 January, as part of an investigation into possible fraud involving EU agricultural funds, in the field of the Rural Development Plan for the Campania region – the so-called ‘Integrated Youth Project’.
In an operation code-named ‘Cheap Ink’, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Venice (Italy) detained 18 suspects, believed to be part of a criminal organisation selling office supplies at cheap prices by fraudulently avoiding VAT payment, with profits estimated at €58 million.
In an investigation into suspected fraud concerning the housing of victims of the 2016 earthquake in Italy, the pre-trial judge of the Court of Teramo, at the request of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), granted an order for freezing assets of €800 000, which was executed by the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza).
On 11 January 2023, in an investigation into tax evasion carried out by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), at the request by the European Delegated Prosecutors. the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) executed a confiscation order of assets for a value of over €10 million, issued by the pre-trial judge of Lecco.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
The Consultative Committee on “Convention 108” has published new guidelines to help governments and other actors in setting up and managing systems that process a range of personal data to certifying individual’s “legal identity”. The Committee’s President, E. Mein, has stressed the importance of national digital identity schemes and system to comply with Human Rights standards, such as right to privacy and personal data protection.
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The applicants, Vyacheslav Ovcharenko and Mykhaylo Kolos, two Ukrainian nationals, in 2006 were appointed as judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. The case concerns their dismissal as judges from that Court for their participation in a judgment, which the authorities interpreted as an unlawful act restoring a previous version of the Constitution which had led to the usurpation of power by the then President of Ukraine. The Court has found a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 6 § 1 as regards the right to an independent and impartial tribunal and the right to a reasoned judgement.
In the case Daraibou v. Croatia, the Court held unanimously that there had been two violations of the Article 2 of the Convention (right to life). The applicant suffered severe burns after a deadly fire spread in the Bajakovo police station basement room, used for the detention of illegal migrants pending their expulsion. The Court found that the police station and its personnel had clearly been ill-prepared to deal with the outbreak of a fire, and that a number of questions have been left unanswered, despite a prompt start to the investigation. Nor had the authorities investigated the applicant’s very serious allegations with regard to the adequacy of the premises and any fire precautions in place. Moreover, no attempt had been made to establish whether there had been broader institutional shortcomings which could have prevented a similar such tragedy happening again.
In the case of Machalikashvili and Others v. Georgia, the Court held, unanimously, that there had been two violations of Article 2 of the Convention (right to life). The case concerned an anti-terrorism operation carried out in Georgia by the State Security Service. Following one of the arrests, the applicants’ relative, who was suspected of providing material support to a group associated with the so-called “Islamic State”, died in hospital, having been shot while allegedly trying to detonate a grenade during his arrest. The Court found in particular that the authorities had failed to comply with the requirements of an effective and thorough investigation for the purposes of Article 2 of the Convention.
In the case Kutayev v. Russia, the Court held unanimously that there had been a violation of Articles 3 (prohibition of torture/investigation), 5§1 (right to liberty and security), 6 (right to a fair trial) and 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) in conjunction with Article 5. The applicant alleges that a group of armed men in camouflage uniform came to his relative’s house on 20 February 2014, after he organised a conference in Grozny to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Chechen population, and took him away to an undisclosed location ,where he was beaten by two men he recognised as the Deputy Minister of the Interior of Chechnya and an official from the Chechnya President’s Administration.
In the case Svetova and Others v. Russia, the Court held that there had been a violation of Articles 8 (right to respect for home), 10 (freedom of expression) and 13 (right to an effective remedy). On 28 February 2017 in the morning the police turned up at the applicants’ Moscow flat with a search warrant. The applicants allege that they only found out that the warrant was related to a 2003 criminal investigation against Mikhail Khodorkovskiy and his associates when their lawyers arrived a few hours later. The applicants attempted unsuccessfully to bring a complaint in the courts about the search.
In the case Ukraine And Netherlands V. Russia, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has declared the application partly admissible. The case concerns complaints related to the conflict in eastern Ukraine involving pro-Russian separatists. The Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands complained about the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, which resulted in the deaths of 298 people, including 196 Dutch nationals. The applicant Governments claimed that their complaints fell within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. The Court held that Russia had had effective control over all areas in the hands of separatists from 11 May 2014 and this has been considered sufficient evidence to satisfy the burden of proof at the admissibility stage of administrative practices in violation of several Articles of the Convention.