Just two weeks before Israeli forces assassinated beloved Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the International Federation of Journalists, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians had submitted a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court accusing Israel of systematically targeting Palestinian journalists.
“The targeting of journalists and media organisations in Palestine violates the right to life and freedom of expression,” said Anthony Bellanger, the general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists.
In a moment when the Israeli government’s propaganda machine is working hard to keep mainstream news organizations mired in reporting on Israeli efforts to raise questions about who shot the bullet that killed Abu Akleh, we must insist on understanding her killing within the broader and ongoing context of Israeli violence against Palestinian journalists.
New COVID-19 infections are once again on the rise across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID deaths in the U.S. have now reached the 1 million mark, a figure widely regarded as an undercount.
The steady increase in COVID cases underscores the perilous wrongheadedness of the recent decision by Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, the federal district court judge in Florida who struck down the national transportation mask mandate on April 18.
In his explosive draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was leaked to Politico, Justice Samuel Alito overrules Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. His draft holds that abortion is no longer a constitutional right and leaves the fate of those who seek abortions to the vagaries of state laws.
“We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion,” Alito writes. “Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
If four other members of the Supreme Court adopt Alito’s draft, many other privacy rights we hold dear will be in jeopardy. They include the rights to contraception and same-sex marriage, among others.
Shortly after taking office, Joe Biden sought to cancel the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy (formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP). Under the policy, asylum seekers who leave a third country and travel through Mexico to the U.S. border are forced to stay in Mexico while awaiting a court hearing on their asylum petitions. Many of the tens of thousands who have been compelled to wait in Mexico have become victims of kidnapping, sexual assault and torture as they wait in crude encampments.
On April 27, Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Homeland Security Committee that under Trump’s Remain in Mexico program, 1,500 people were murdered, tortured, raped or were victims of other serious crimes.
Although the United States has tried mightily to undermine the International Criminal Court (ICC) since it became operational in 2002, the U.S. government is now pushing for the ICC to prosecute Russian leaders for war crimes in Ukraine. Apparently, Washington thinks the ICC is reliable enough to try Russians but not to bring U.S. or Israeli officials to justice.
On March 15, the Senate unanimously passed S. Res 546, which “encourages member states to petition the ICC or other appropriate international tribunal to take any appropriate steps to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian Armed Forces.”
When he introduced the resolution, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said, “This is a proper exercise of jurisdiction. This is what the court was created for.” The United States has refused to join the ICC and consistently tries to undercut the court. Yet a unanimous U.S. Senate voted to utilize the ICC in the Ukraine conflict.
Donald Trump and his lawyer, former Chapman law school dean John Eastman, launched “a coup in search of a legal theory,” U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter recently wrote in his stunning 44-page opinion. Carter found it “more likely than not” that Trump committed two federal crimes to further his and Eastman’s “campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history.”
Carter’s opinion provides a road map for Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice to bring criminal charges against Trump. Although the House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol (“Select Committee”) can send a criminal referral to the Justice Department, only the department can file a criminal indictment.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is inching toward confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice after sailing with strength and grace through days of racist and disrespectful attacks by GOP senators. Conservative Democrat Joe Manchin has now signaled that he will vote to confirm Jackson, showing that the often fractured Democratic senators are uniting to support her confirmation.
Although Judge Jackson is exceptionally qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, she was subjected to snide, condescending and racist attacks by Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearing this week. Jackson remained remarkably unflappable in the face of grueling questions and hostile, vicious assaults.
The British judicial system has erected still another barrier to Julian Assange’s freedom. On March 14, the U.K. Supreme Court refused to hear Assange’s appeal of the U.K. High Court’s ruling ordering his extradition to the United States. If extradited to the U.S. for trial, Assange will face 17 charges under the Espionage Act and up to 175 years in prison for revealing evidence of U.S. war crimes.
With no explanation of its reasoning, the Supreme Court denied Assange “permission to appeal” the High Court’s decision, saying that Assange’s appeal did not “raise an arguable point of law.” The court remanded the case back to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, which is the same court that denied the U.S. extradition request on January 4, 2021.
Abu Zubaydah, whom the CIA once mistakenly alleged was a top al-Qaeda leader, was waterboarded 80+ times, subjected to assault in the form of forced rectal exams, and exposed to live burials in coffins for hundreds of hours. Zubaydah sobbed, twitched and hyperventilated. During one waterboarding session, he became completely unresponsive, with bubbles coming out of his mouth. “He became so compliant that he would prepare for waterboarding at the snap of a finger,” Neil Gorsuch wrote in his 30-page dissent in United States v. Zubaydah.
On March 3, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court dismissed Zubaydah’s petition requesting the testimony of psychologists James Mitchell and John Jessen, whom the CIA hired to orchestrate his torture at a secret CIA prison (“CIA black site”) in Poland from December 2002 until September 2003. Zubaydah was transferred to other CIA black sites before being sent to Guantánamo in 2006, where he remains today with no charges against him.
As the Russian military continues to mount rocket attacks that target Ukraine’s airports and military installations, and as its ground troops advance, reportedly firing missiles and long-range artillery, what can the United Nations do to stop the violence, protect civilians and work to achieve a diplomatic path to peace?
The UN Security Council is not able to act to restore international peace and security due to Russia’s veto of its resolution. But given the fact that Russia did not act in self-defense or with Security Council approval — and thus its military actions constitute illegal aggression — there is a step that the UN General Assembly could and should take immediately to promote a ceasefire, a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, and the pursuit of a diplomatic solution.
Under the Uniting for Peace resolution, when the Security Council is unable to act due to the lack of unanimity of its five permanent members, the General Assembly can take up the matter to restore international peace and security, even ordering the use of force. On February 27, the Security Council referred the matter of Ukraine to the General Assembly under Uniting for Peace.