ICC rules past trauma not a defense against the war crime of forced pregnancy

The international court concluded a case against a former child soldier whose defense included that he had been a victim himself when he was abducted and conscripted into Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army at the age of 10. The acts for which he was tried took place later on, when he was a high ranking commander of that force.

The ruling establishes for the ICC that “suffered victimization in the past is not a justification, nor an excuse to victimize others,” as was argued by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in her opening statements of the trial in 2016.

The ruling is considered to be somewhat of a landmark because it expands the ICC’s definition of war crimes and crimes against humanity to include forced pregnancy and forced marriage.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Nigeria remains Africa’s top economy as Egypt and South Africa shuffle places again

In the 3-way see-saw to be at the top African economy, Egypt beat out South Africa again taking its place as the continent’s second-biggest economy, leaving Nigeria at the top, a position it has held since 2020 when it overtook South Africa.

The International Monetary Fund records show that for years the three counties have been in constant competition for the #1, #2 and #3 spots.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Nevada might give tech companies the ability to set up their own mini governments if they move to the state

The Las Vegas Review-Journal stated that the draft of new legislation being considered by the state’s governor refers to the current government model of trying to attract new businesses as “inadequate alone to provide the flexibility and resources conducive to making the State a leader in attracting and retaining new forms and types of businesses and fostering economic development in emerging technologies and innovative industries,” proposing its “alternative form of local government” to make the state into a high-tech development zone.

If the law were to go through, companies in Nevada would be able to set up in their zones of operation with their own local taxes, government services, schools, police, and courts of justice.

The types of businesses that would be able to obtain such a deal from Nevada would be limited to specific innovative technologies, according to the Review-Journal, including blockchain, autonomous technology, the Internet of Things, robotics, A.I., wireless technology, biometrics, and renewable resource technology.

Nevada has some of the U.S.’s largest, emptiest counties that could be put to use this way. The bill proposing the new approach to tech government is not in it’s final form, but reports are that officials in the counties affected were initially skeptical despite investment requirements of over $1 billion in the first 10 years.

By Milan Sime Martinić

EU no longer recognizes Guaidó as Venezuelan president

MARACAY, Venezuela – Although the European bloc continues to consider him a privileged interlocutor in matters dealing with Venezuela, the EU downgraded Guaidó’s diplomatic status from that of interim president of the country.

EU states agreed they could no longer consider Juan Guaidó as interim president due to his loss of position in the Venezuelan congress last December.

His previous status granted Guaidó access to all assets and funds confiscated from Nicolás Maduro, as well as giving him access to high officials in the political and economic spheres and greater ability to promote the democratic movement he is a part of both inside and outside Venezuela.

The USA and Great Britain, however, still consider Guaidó to be president.

By Luis Alejandro R.

Bolivian town wants to charge woman for calling town “ugly”

Uyuni Salts

Authorities in the tourist town of Uyuni, famous for its salt flats, are demanding the extradition (from one department to another) and prosecution of a Bolivian singer who goes by the pseudonym Frances P. The musician in a social media post said the town was so ugly she would not move there even for $3,000,000.

Bolivian law has a “duties of tourists” clause that prohibits “discriminatory comments.” Bolivia has in the past arrested a newscaster for making derogatory comments about another city.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Angola has decriminalized homosexuality

The Southern African country also passed a law criminalizing discrimination based on sexual orientation, which will come into play when a person tries to get a job or receive services.

Only a handful of African nations have laws to protect homosexuals, and many criminalize the lifestyle with potentially heavy punishments — sometimes even a death sentence.

Angola has been revising its 1975 penal code which was interpreted to ban homosexuality through its “vices against nature” provision.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Proud Boys join al-Qaeda, ISIS, and al-Shabab on Canada’s Terrorist Entity List

The far-right American group famous for its participation in the January 6th insurrection in Washington is now officially a terrorist organization in Canada, based largely on the events at the U.S. Capitol.

Public Safety Canada detailed the group’s inclusion in their terrorist list: “Members of the group espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and/or white supremacist ideologies and associate with white supremacist groups. The group and its members have openly encouraged, planned, and conducted violent activities against those they perceive to be opposed to their ideology and political beliefs. The group regularly attends Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests as counter-protesters, often engaging in violence targeting BLM supporters.”

Canadian Criminal Code requires businesses and individuals to immediately disassociate from groups on the Entity List.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Bangladesh relocating Rohingyas to isolated Bhasan Char island

Bhasan Char

The government of Bangladesh has started a controversial program to relocate Muslim Rohingya refugees who escaped from persecution in Myanmar to the small isolated island Bhasan Char that is particularly vulnerable to storms and has never been permanently inhabited.

Despite claims by the government in Dhaka that the resettlement is voluntary, refugees interviewed by CNN said they were being forced and beaten when refused.

The sedimentary 40-sq. kilometer island was discovered 18 years ago and has only ever occasionally served as a shelter for smugglers and pirates. Although the island has been considered unsafe for living due to its constant shape-changing as sand deposits shift, Bangladesh has build flood barriers and insists the island is safe.

Rohingyas say they are descendants of Muslim traders who have lived in the region for generations; Myanmar says they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, making them stateless people.

Nearly one-million Rohingyas have escaped discrimination and persecution in Myanmar, and Bangladesh plans on resettling as many as 100,000 to the island. Once there, they will have little chance of leaving, say human rights groups, fearing the island will flood and they will die.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Attempt to secretly revise human rights program in Brazil – HRW

Human Rights Watch has raised alarm about Brazil’s exclusion of civil society from discussions about changing the country’s human rights policies, suspecting a secret plan to undermine what has for decades been regarded as a critical achievement in the defense of human rights in Brazil.

“The Bolsonaro administration, which has promoted an anti-rights agenda, has announced it is planning to change the National Human Rights Program in absolute secret, and without the participation of anyone who disagrees with its policies,” said Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch.

By contrast, the last revision to the program under President Lula involved some 14,000 people in the discussions and a widely regarded transparent process. The National Human Rights Programs (PNDH) follow the guidelines of the 1993 Vienna Convention, and Brazil was one of the first countries to promote this formulation (PNDH-1, in 1996, PNDH-2, in 2002, and PNDH- 3, in 2009). PNDH establishes a benchmark to assess the effectiveness of government efforts to improve the human rights conditions in Brazil.

Since 2019, Bolsonaro has eliminated the government committee in charge of coordinating the implementation of the National Human Rights Program, now the group proposing new changes is made up solely of members of his administration.

The approach is an affront to the democratic rule of law, the Constitution, and the National Human Rights Programs built in Brazil, say some 211 Brazilian NGO stakeholders in calling for the immediate revocation of the administration’s new regulations that created the working group for the PNDH-3 review.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Report reveals Nigerian Navy and police personnel aiding crude oil theft, illegal refineries in Nigeria

Illegal refinery in Niger Delta Region

OSHODI, Nigeria – With the rise of crude oil theft and illegal refineries in the Niger Delta, reports have shown how men of the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Police Force (NPF) have aided criminals for profit by giving protection to oil bunkers in the region.

A member of the NPF, who required anonymity for security reasons, disclosed to The Guardian that some of the officers who they work with have their own refining sites.

As the nation continues to fight illegal oil drilling, operators of the illegal refineries have alleged that they pay huge amounts of money to Navy personnel to allow them to operate freely.

A Transparency International (TI) report from July and February 2018 detailed the practice of military personnel demanding payments from illegal refineries in exchange for allowing oil bunkers to operate.

The report included interviewees from Bayelsa State, who provided information about one of the failed operations that failed to meet a deadline to pay an “operational fee” of 4 million Naira (approx. USD$11,000), in which military officers arrived on the site and opened fire, allegedly killing one person and demanding an extra 200,000 Naira for the delay. The next day, 1.7 million Naira was delivered to military personnel with a promise to pay the balance of 2.3 million later.

The Niger Delta is the most important oil-producing region in Africa, with its oil providing 70% of Nigeria’s government revenue. However, alongside the legitimate trade in the Delta’s oil products, there is a lucrative and organized illicit trade that reportedly loses Nigeria 200,000 barrels of oil per day. Participants in oil theft, also called “oil bunkering,” steal oil from pipelines, refine the oil, and then sell it to local, regional and international markets. It is a profitable criminal industry that cost the Nigerian government an estimated 3.8 trillion Naira (approx. USD$105 billion) in 2016 and 2017.

By Jesutomi Akomolafe

Colombia offers protection to Venezuelan migrants, for 10 years

Colombian President Iván Duque announced that temporary protection status will be granted to Venezuelan migrants residing in Colombian territory. During the announcement, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, was present.

Thanks to the measure adopted by the coffee-growing country, Venezuelans located in the Colombia will be able to work legally. According to data compiled by various agencies, the estimated number of illegal Venezuelans, or those without legal status, is around 1 million.

The main consequence of the uncontrolled migration of Venezuelans to Colombia is the oversaturation of education and health systems, particularly in border locations.

During a press release, President Iván Duque mentioned that the process “marks a milestone in Colombia’s migration policies.”

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the decision can be seen as the greatest gesture of solidarity in decades.

Details of the temporary protection measure for Venezuelan migrants

The new migratory status will have a duration of 10 years, which will also provide greater comfort to migrants who are already legalized. This was stated by the President.

It should be noted that migrants who entered Colombia before January 31 are eligible for the new protection measure. However, they must register to acquire the new immigration status. Otherwise, they may be deported.

Combating COVID-19

Finally, Iván Duque reiterated the call to the international community to contribute more funds to the fight against COVID-19. In this way, they will be able to use the funds to vaccinate Venezuelan migrants living in Colombian territory.

By Luis Alejandro R.

 

TPLF former advisor claims hundreds of thousands of troops killed in Tigray

ADDIS ABABA – Getachew Reda, former advisor to the fugitive TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael, said hundreds of thousands of Eritrean and Ethiopian troops were killed while fighting with their forces.

According to Getachew, Ethiopia’s government narrative of the war in Tigray has ended is a mere wish: “There is no single day without war in Tigray.” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared in November the last phase of the conflict with TPLF, as national defense forces fully controlled Mekelle, the capital of the northern Tigray region.

Getachew Reda
Getachew Reda

In an interview with foreign-based TPLF-affiliated media, Getachew said that they have pardoned defeated soldiers by letting them go to where they came from. His statements haves neither been denied nor approved by Eritrean or Ethiopian governments.

Getachew’s numbers may be exaggerated, though, as the Ethiopian army only has roughly 140k active personnel. Although Ethiopia’s force in Tigray is reported to include militia as well and total possibly 250,000, of that number 30-60k are supposed to be fighters. Eritrea’s army is around 200k-strong. The forces involved in the current conflict are supposed to not exceed 300,000.

Yared Nigussie