The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague issued an interim order on Nov. 16 directing the Syrian government to "take all measures within its powers" to prevent torture. This development stems from a case brought by the Netherlands and Canada, accusing Syria of engaging in a prolonged campaign of torture of its own citizens. The court's order seeks to safeguard potential victims as the case proceeds. Syria is accused of breaching the Convention against Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) released a statement on Nov. 17 saying it received a referral from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, Djibouti and South Africa regarding the Situation in the State of Palestine. ICC prosecutor Karim AA Khan KC affirmed that an investigation is currently ongoing with its own dedicated team. The five countries made the ICC referral in accordance with their powers under the Rome Statute. All five of the referring countries are party to the Rome Statute, as is the State of Palestine; Israel is not.
Palestinian human rights organizations and others have sued US President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd James Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken for complicity in genocide and violating the duty to prevent genocide in relation to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The Center for Constitutional Rights filed the case Nov. 13 on behalf of Defense for Children International-Palestine, Al-Haq and individual plaintiffs affected by the conflict, asserting violations of the 1948 Genocide Convention and the 1988 Genocide Convention Implementation Act.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, Ian Fry, called Nov. 15 for the disbandment of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which he called a "counter-insurgency force" in the Philippines.
France issued arrest warrants on Nov. 15 for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his brother Maher al-Assad, de facto chief of the regime's elite 4th Armored division, as well as two high-ranking military generals. The warrants stem from an investigation into two chemical weapons attacks that occurred in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in August 2013, resulting in the death of over 1,000 people. French officials launched the investigation in 2021 after the Syrian Center for Media & Freedom of Expression (SCM) and other nongovernmental organizations filed a complaint with the Specialized Unit for Crimes against Humanity & War Crimes of the Paris Judicial Court. The SCM argued that the use of chemical weapons is a jus cogens crime, implying an absolute prohibition with no immunity based on state sovereignty.
A group of Turkish mothers whose sons and daughters were forcibly disappeared in the 1980s and '90s held a public vigil in Istanbul without police interference Nov. 11. This marked the first time the "Saturday Mothers" group has been allowed to proceed with such an event since police dispersed their last gathering in August 2018. The group's vigils had persisted for nearly three decades. The vigil was resumed after Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled earlier this year that suppression of the event violated participants' rights.
Three Palestinian human rights groups, Al Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, filed a lawsuit Nov. 10 with the International Criminal Court (ICC) asking for an investigation into alleged crimes by Israel. The submission, which was made under Article 15 of the Rome Statute, accuses Israel of war crimes, genocide and incitement to genocide, in the context of the bombardment of the Gaza Strip. This submission follows mounting allegations of Israeli war crimes by international human rights groups, including the use of toxic white phosphorous on civilians and attacks on medical services.
In a statement released Nov. 3, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights brought attention to an "alarming and urgent" situation on the occupied West Bank, with "multi-layered human rights violations of Palestinians" mounting while the world is focused on the greater crisis in Gaza. The statement notes that 132 Palestinians, including 41 children, have been killed on the West Bank since the current crisis began on Oct. 7. Two Israeli soldiers have also been killed. Settler violence, which was already at record levels, has escalated dramatically, averaging seven attacks a day. In more than a third of these attacks, firearms were used, the statement charged. In many of these incidents, "settlers were accompanied by members of the Israeli forces, or the settlers were wearing uniforms and carrying army rifles," raising concerns that "armed settlers have been acting with the acquiescence and collaboration of Israeli forces and authorities."