The Supreme Court of the Netherlands affirmed on Aug. 25 that Palestinians are precluded from bringing legal action against Israeli military officers for their involvement in a deadly air-strike on the Gaza Strip in 2014. The high court upheld the decisions of lower court judges, ruling that former Israeli chief of staff Benny Gantz and former Israeli Air Force commander Amir Eshel are shielded from prosecution in the Netherlands due to their immunity status. The court ruled that this places them above legal reproach, regardless of the seriousness or nature of the alleged actions.
Amnesty International on Aug. 24 called for the application of "universal jurisdiction" against members of the Taliban accused of crimes under international law. Invocation of this doctrine would give any country the power to prosecute Taliban members for such violations. The statement came two days after a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) which found that Taliban de facto authorities have been committing extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and other forms of maltreatment against former members of Afghanistan's government and security forces. The report said that UNAMA has recorded at least 218 such extrajudicial killings in less than two years, from August 2021 to June 2023. Amnesty stated: "The new UNAMA report demonstrates an unending pattern of extrajudicial killings against members of the former government and security forces since Taliban's return to power in August 2021."
In the latest iteration of Russia's ongoing crackdown on dissent, a Moscow court on Aug. 18 ordered the detention of Grigory Melkonyants, co-chair of independent election monitoring organization Golos. The organization announced in a statement that the initial detention period was set at two months pending an investigation into charges that Melkonyants worked with an "undesirable" NGO—a crime in Russia, punishable with six years in prison.
The Moscow City Court ruled Aug. 18 to liquidate the Public Commission for the Preservation of the Heritage of Academician Sakharov, or the Sakharov Center, one of Russia's most respected human rights organizations, for "systematic, gross and irremediable violations of the law." The order was granted after an application from the Ministry of Justice.
Saudi Arabian border guards have killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum-seekers attempting to cross the border from Yemen, according to an Aug. 21 report from Human Rights Watch (HRW). The report documented incidents between March 2022 and June 2023, based on interviews with migrants, satellite imagery, and social media posts. According to the report, Saudi border guards used explosive weapons such as mortars against migrants, and shot them at close range with live ammunition. Saudi border guards reportedly fired on people even when they complied with orders. HRW called the recent pattern of killings a change from "an apparent practice of occasional shootings" to "widespread and systematic killings."
An attorney representing imprisoned Egyptian political activist Ahmed Douma took to social media Aug. 20 to announce the activist's release, thanks to a presidential pardon. Douma had endured a decade of incarceration within Egyptian penitentiaries, and had five more years of his sentence to serve. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi apparently responded to repeated calls for his release by human rights organizations.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk raised concerns Aug. 18 about the Nigerien military junta's decision to prosecute deposed president Mohamed Bazoum and others working with him for high treason. Türk called on the generals who seized power in July to immediately restore constitutional rule. "Now the very people who they elected to build a pathway to end their destitution have been removed by force against the constitutional order and detained by the coup leaders. They must be released at once, and democracy restored. This decision is not only politically motivated against a democratically elected President but has no legal basis as the normal functioning of democratic institutions [has] been cast aside," Türk said.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a statement Aug. 14 condemning the idea that the Taliban are "reformed" since the last time they were in power in Afghanistan. The statement, written by multiple human rights experts, drew attention to the gap between the promises made by the Taliban upon its return to power in August 2021 and the reality of "gender apartheid" in Afghanistan.