1. European Court of Human Rights confirmed the conviction of an operative of Soviet repression structures for genocide
The European Court of Human Rights on 12 March, 2019, issued a judgment in the case of Drėlingas v. Lithuania (Application no. 28859/16). The case broadly dealt with the definition of genocide, and the interpretation of ‘protected group’ in particular. This judgement is among a series of judgements related to Soviet mass repressions in the Baltic States after their occupation and annexation from 1940 up to Stalin’s death in 1953. The main facts of the case were as follows: Drėlingas was an operative of the Soviet repression structures (MGB/KGB) and in 1956 he participated in the arrest of the famous anti-soviet armed resistance leaders – nome de guerre “Vanagas” and his wife B. M. “Vanda”. After being captured, Vanagas was tortured and maimed. He was tried by the Soviet court and was eventually executed. His wife was deported to Siberia. After restoring Lithuania’s independence in 1990, Drėlingas was put on trial in 2014 and sentenced for his participation in genocide, as an accessory to the crime. The European Court of Human Rights affirmed the conviction of the Applicant for genocide.
- Justinas Žilinskas, Drėlingas v. Lithuania (ECHR): Ethno-Political Genocide Confirmed? EJIL: Talk! (April 15, 2019)
- Varsha Rajput, Drėlingas v. Lithuania: Development of Ethno-Political genocide, Lex Research Hub (March 14, 2019)
2. German Court directed the assessment of the compatibility of US drone strike with international law
Yemeni and Somali claimants filed claims against Germany for its alleged involvement in the US drone program before a German Court. While Germany neither publicly supports nor actively participates in the US drone program, consensus exists on the point that the US Air Base in Ramstein, Germany, is a significant consideration. The German court held that, first, Germany was constitutionally obliged to ascertain that the US drone strikes conducted via Ramstein were compatible with international law. Second, in case the government found the US practice to be legally contentious, German authorities would have to take efforts in order to ensure that international law was complied with.
- Emma DiNapoli, German Courts Weigh Legal Responsibility for U.S. Drone Strikes, Lawfare Blog (April 4, 2019)
- Tassilo Hummel, German court hands partial victory to critics of U.S. drone deaths in Yemen, Thomson Reuters (March 19, 2019)
3. US proclamation recognised Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights, while EU refused such recognition
EU released a declaration stating that the member States did not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights. The Declaration was intended as a response to Trump’s proclamation of the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights. In fact, most of the international community considers Golan Heights to be occupied territory.
- Julian Borger, Trump says US will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights, The Guardian (March 21, 2019)
- Staff Reporter, Golan Heights: Trump signs order recognising occupied area as Israeli, British Broadcasting Corporation (March 25 2019)
- Jon Stone, EU member states unanimously reject Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights, defying Trump and Netanyahu, The Independent (March 28, 2019)
4. International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunal Appeals Chamber increased Radovan Karadžić’s sentence to a life sentence
Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals set aside Radovan Karadžić’s sentence of forty years and imposed a life sentence instead. Karadžić was convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of the laws or customs of war by a Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in March 2016. These crimes were committed during the 1990s conflicts in the Balkans, particularly the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo.
- Julian Borger, Radovan Karadžić war crimes sentence increased to life in prison, The Guardian (March 20, 2019)
- Richard J. Goldstone and Amanda Hukanović, Expectations of the Victims of Radovan Karadžić, Oxford Human Rights Hub (April 30, 2019)
- Marika Djolai, The Radovan Karadžić verdict: Closure for Bosnia and Herzegovina at last? London School of Economics Blog (April 4, 2019)
5. UN Experts Report found that North Korea was in violation of sanctions
The UN Exports Report found that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs remained intact with the country defying Security Council resolutions by continuing to allow illegal ship-to-ship transfers of coal and petroleum products. Further, it was also found that North Korea was in violation of the arms embargo and had attempted to supply small arms and light weapons to groups in Yemen, Libya, and Sudan. Financial sanctions were not being properly implemented against and continued to be actively evaded. The panel of experts made recommendations to prevent further violations of the sanctions regimes.
- Associated Press, North Korea sanctions: UN investigating possible violations in about 20 countries, The Guardian (March 12, 2019)
- Togzhan Kassenova, 2019 U.N. North Korea Panel of Experts Report: Takeaways for Financial Institutions, Carnegie Endowment of International Peace (March 27, 2019)
6. UK Parliament rejected Brexit deal for the third time
The British Parliament voted against Theresa May’s negotiated deal for the third time on March 29, 2019. Previously the deal was rejected in early March and January.
- Dan Sabbagh, What now for Brexit after May’s deal is rejected for third time? The Guardian (March 29, 2019)
This update has been prepared by Rajarshi Roy, a law student at West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences.