Justice reforms in Poland have now been criticized for several years by Polish lawyers as well as the EU. Disciplinary punishment of judges will now be handled by a special Disciplinary Panel after the latest amendment. What was the reaction of the EU and what will follow?
Since 2015, Poland has been adopting major reforms, reshaping the foundations of its judicial system. Many of these came into force while both the laic and expert public demonstrated their discontent with these changes of the Polish justice system.
At the end of January 2020, the French bill for in-vitro fertilization for single women and lesbians passed the Senate's first reading. The bill was passed with 160 votes in favour and 116 against. It aims to ensure that French women will have the ability to raise their biological children and thus preserve their genetic information.
France has one of the strictest laws on approach to fertility treatment in Europe. The access to equal rights related to the assisted reproduction for lesbians and single women was a campaign promise of Emmanuel Macron ahead of the presidential elections in 2017. The bill is a part of a new comprehensive bioethics law, and it is also one of Macron’s first major social reforms during his presidency.
Since 1987, Taiwan has had a long journey in the process of democratization and promotion of human rights. In spite of the repetitive rejections of its application for a seat in the United Nations, it has become determined to gradually adapt its national law to the United Nations’ human rights standards. The milestone was reached last year when Taiwan established the National Human Rights Institution according to the Paris Principles.
Self-made review process
Taiwan (officially named the Republic of China) is not a member state of the United Nations (UN). Its international status dates back to 1971 when the UN General Assembly passed Resolution No. 2758 recognizing the People’s Republic of China as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations”. Despite this fact, Taiwan has made vigorous efforts to step out from the international isolation and establish a functional democratic society based on the rule of law and the protection of human rights according to the UN human rights framework. It has started to comply with UN human rights treaties and implement their obligations in its domestic law. To date, Taiwan has implemented five of such treaties.
On 20 February 2020, seven countries, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the League of Arab States, and another 34 applicants, including NGOs and distinguished scholars were granted leave to be amici curiae (‘friends of the Court’) in the determination on jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Palestine situation. They will express their position on whether the ICC has territorial jurisdiction pursuant to Art. 12 of the Rome Statute over the crimes committed in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Preliminary examination and a struggle of the Court
The situation in Palestine has been subject to a preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) since 16 January 2015. On 20 December 2019, the OTP concluded that the issue of territorial jurisdiction needed to be resolved before a commencement of a formal investigation. In its request of 22 January, the OTP asked the Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) to rule on the issue. The decision has been praised by some as a sign of prudence and criticized by others as a cowardly move. Effectively, it shifts the burden of such an emotionally, politically and legally difficult decision from the executive to the judicial branch of the ICC.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom made a bold step, which can re-write textbooks. In the R v TRA case, the Court held that acts of torture under the UN Convention Against Torture can be committed by non-state armed groups, challenging the conservative state-centric view. How was the judgment received? What is the way forward?
The end of the decade was marked by the much anticipated judgment released by the United Kingdom Supreme Court (UKSC) in the R v TRA case. The UKSC, then still presided by Lady Hale, decided that for the purposes of domestic prosecution, the definition of torture under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) can be understood to include torture committed by officials of non-state armed groups. Such interpretation confirmed a broader understanding of who can commit torture under the UNCAT that stretches beyond the more conservative state-centric model.
In October, Turkey launched “Operation Peace Spring” in the northeastern part of Syria, which was controlled by Kurdish-led forces. The operation began after President Trump withdrew US forces from northern Syria. The Kurdish-led forces have been a strong US ally against the so-called Islamic State radical group in the past. The Turkish president, Recep Erdoğan, has been strongly criticised for these actions by his Western allies.
Who are the Kurds?
There are between 25 and 35 million Kurds, who are an ethnic group inhabiting parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Even though there are many members of this minority, they have never been able to create a nation-state.
The British people voted for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum. The UK should have left the EU by the end of October 2019. How did the individual negotiations go and what were their results?
The referendum about Brexit
As a member state, it is possible to leave the EU on the basis of a democratic decision, which is approved by the public, as it is governed by Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This is exactly what happened in the case of the UK. The referendum took place in June 2016. The official turnout was 72.2 % of possible voters. 51.9 % people voted to withdraw, and conversely, 48.1 % people voted to remain in the EU. David Cameron resigned from his post as Prime Minister after the results went public. He was succeeded in his post by Theresa May.