This is a tool related to the teaching of public international law at the Law Faculty of the University of Lausanne. I tris to provide reliable information regarding Public International Law (PIL) that I consider of interest to my students. I try to cover Switzerland comprehensively and the rest of the world t the extent possible.
Dutch Holocaust survivor seeks compensation from German railway for transport to Nazi camps
A Dutch Holocaust survivor has filed legal claims with Germany and its national railway company demanding compensation from the company for its role in the Holocaust.
Salo Muller, now 84 years old, was a child when his parents were murdered at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Muller is seeking compensation that includes 16 million Euros (or $18.8 million), the amount claimed to have been received by Deutsche Reichsbahn, the German railway used during World War II to transport Jewish, Roma and Sinti families to Nazi concentration camps. The Nazis confiscated these families’ properties to pay the railway company.
Muller said, “I blame the railway company for knowingly transporting Jews to the concentration camps and for killing those Jews there in a terrible way.” He also said, “I want recognition from them and recognition always comes with an allowance.”
Deutsche Bahn replaced the Reichsbahn when it was formed in 1994 following German unification. It does not accept legal responsibility and stated that it had donated a “considerable double-digit-million sum” to Germany’s Holocaust foundation. The railway company, which has the Federal Republic of Germany as its single shareholder, has in the past neither apologized to victims and their families nor provided individual compensation to them.
Muller had in 2019 succeeded in obtaining compensation from the Dutch state-owned railway company Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) for transporting the families to transit camps at Dutch borders, from which it earned millions of Euros. NS had said that it would pay tens of millions of Euros to camp survivors and family members of the dead, and has paid 32 million Euros so far.
Die Internationale Handelskammer (ICC) hat kürzlich ihre Statistiken zur Streitbeilegung für 2019 veröffentlicht. Die publizierten Zahlen bestätigen die führende Rolle der Schweiz in der internationalen Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit.
Nach dem Vereinigten Königreich und Frankreich belegte die Schweiz mit 53 Verfahren in Genf und 27 in Zürich den dritten Platz bei den häufigsten Sitzen für ICC Schiedsverfahren. Weiter stellten Schweizerinnen und Schweizer die zweitmeisten Schiedsrichterinnen und Schiedsrichter. Schweizer Recht war zudem das zweithäufigst gewählte Recht, das gemäss Parteivereinbarung auf den Streit Anwendung fand.
After a five-year legal dispute with SECO, Swiss news magazine Die Wochenzeitung (WOZ) on Thursday published the names of arms manufacturers based in Switzerland. SECO had to provide the information following a ruling by the Federal Court.
UN rights expert welcomes extension of peaceful assembly right to digital platforms
The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association has welcomed new guidance from the UN Human Rights Committee extending the right of peaceful assembly to online platforms.
The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) adopted General Comment No. 37 on July 23, defining the right of peaceful assembly and lawful restrictions on protests. The committee formulated its legal interpretation as people have been participating in Black Lives Matter and other demonstrations during the COVID-19 outbreaks around the world. Special Rapporteur Clement Voule said on Wednesday: ” By focusing extensively on the intersection of digital technologies and the right to peaceful assembly, General Comment 37 sets out a clear framework to protect this fundamental right in the digital era…It firmly settles the debate about whether the right to peaceful assembly extends to online activities, says governments should not block or hinder Internet connectivity in relation to peaceful assemblies, and questions the chilling effect of surveillance technologies.”
The legal advice comes from the 18 experts on the UNHRC who monitor how countries implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The panel’s General Comment notes that governments have the right to restrict protests on public health grounds within reason. “The protection of ‘public health’ ground may exceptionally permit restrictions to be imposed, for example, where there is an outbreak of an infectious disease and gatherings are dangerous,” the report said. Christof Heyns, a committee member, added that a government could limit the number of demonstrations in a public square to accommodate social distancing. The General Comment noted that restrictions on the right of peaceful assembly might occur on the grounds of public safety, public order, and the protection of others’ morals and rights.
However, the report stressed the grounds for restrictions should not be used to unduly restrict demonstrations, emphasizing “assemblies are a legitimate use of public and other spaces.” In addition to the general framework for restrictions, the Comment stated any restrictions must be content-neutral, and the rules applicable to freedom of expression should be followed. Further, the document said that states have duties “not to prohibit, restrict, block or disrupt assemblies without compelling justification.” Notably, the Comment states that protestors have the right to wear protective gear such as masks or hoods to cover their faces while participating in protests and demonstrations. Additionally, governments should not collect personal data to harass or intimidate protest participants. It also stressed the right of journalists and human rights observers to monitor and document any assembly, including violent and unlawful ones.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among other human rights groups, have criticised the new Turkish social media bill as a violation of the right to freedom of expression
The bill was pushed after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family members were allegedly subjected to insults on Twitter, causing him to seek to regulate “immoral” social media. While the president and his party claim that the bill was needed to protect citizens from cybercrime, slander, and to establish commercial and legal ties with social media companies, opposition parties have objected to it on concerns of increased censorship, stifled dissent and establishment of a totalitarian regime.
Turkey has more than 54 million social media users out of a population of 83 million people. According to the General Directorate of Security, in 2018, 110,000 accounts were investigated and more than 7,000 people were detained over their social media posts. Turkey has previously banned websites including Wikipedia, Twitter and Youtube. The ban on Wikipedia was only lifted in January this year.
Brazil health worker unions urge ICC to investigate president over pandemic response
A group of unions representing Brazilian health workers filed a complaint Monday against President Jair Bolsonaro in the International Criminal Court (ICC), alleging that Bolsonaro’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a crime against humanity.
Brazil currently has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, with almost two million individuals infected and almost 100,000 dead. Bolsonaro had previously been widely criticized for ignoring World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. He had also been accused of downplaying the pandemic’s severity for political gain. In June the government was accused of withholding vital infection and death toll data.
The ICC complaint claims that Bolsonaro underestimated the seriousness of the pandemic and acted with contempt, neglect and denial. This attitude purportedly brought “disastrous consequences,” including the intensified spread of the virus and strained health services. Under the federal constitution, individuals are guaranteed the right to health, and the state is also obligated to promote health. The complaint claims that the failure of the government to act violated the constitution and amounted to genocide.
Even though social isolation was highly recommended by both national and international health professionals, Bolsonaro publicly spoke out against social isolation and continued to carry out public activities. He constantly upheld the unrestricted opening of social spaces, such as stores, schools and public parks. He also insisted upon chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in Ministry of Health protocols for treatment, even though there were no scientific studies supporting their uses. Among many other things, the complaint accused Bolsonaro of never listening to the technical, medical and health recommendations of Brazil’s Minister of Health.
The plaintiffs asked that the ICC restrain Brazil’s government from acting negligently and that the ICC order the government to take the “proven, necessary steps to reduce risk to health professionals and the Brazilian population.”