European Commission Passes Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence and Human Rights Law

By: D’Andre Gordon 

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

BRUSSELS, Belgium – On February 23, 2022, the European Commission adopted a proposal to enact new supply chain legislation, known as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), which aims to increase “corporate sustainability due diligence,” reduce the environmental impact of corporate practices, and advance human rights.

A person holding a sign with a black background with white-colored lettering that reads “Justice is everybody’s business.” | Photo courtesy of Amnesty International.

The EU’s recent approval of the CSDDD is more than a legislative change; it’s a clarion call for economic systems worldwide to reckon with the legacies of exploitation embedded within them. This act, which challenges companies to transparently audit their supply chains for human rights abuses and environmental damage, introduces an ethical dimension to global commerce that holds corporations accountable beyond profit margins.

The directive marks a significant step in redressing the deep-seated imbalances created by a history of colonial practices, where the pursuit of profit too often trampled on the rights of native populations and the natural environment. However, it is crucial to address that the journey toward this legislative milestone was marked by critical discourses reflecting the delicate interplay between ambition and attainability.

Reports from ESG Today and Euronews reveal that the initial robust provisions of the CSDDD were met with political reservations, leading to a version that some consider being watered down. The adoption of the directive, though successful, emerged with raised thresholds for company inclusion and excised requirements that could have extended its reach significantly. Such compromises hint at the complexities and constraints intrinsic to policymaking within diverse political landscapes.

Despite these modifications, the legislative process has been met with measured optimism by watchdogs and social organizations, including Amnesty International, which sees the CSDDD as a vital first step in the right direction. It is an acknowledgment of the necessity for corporate accountability, but also a recognition of the directive’s present limitations. Their perspective serves as a reminder that the pursuit of justice and corporate responsibility is an evolving endeavor, requiring laws like the CSDDD to be living documents, amenable to future enhancements that might expand their scope and fortify their impact.

Other groups are making similar efforts. In Canada, Indigenous communities are engaging in a parallel, yet distinctive struggle, advocating for an economy that supports not just life, but a way of life reflecting their values. Researchers like Solen Roth have detailed the efforts of Northwest Coast artists in reclaiming the commodification of their cultural heritage. Their journey towards a market model that is both less colonial and more indigenous – emphasizing fair distribution and community benefit – mirrors the ethos behind the EU’s new directive.

For further information, please see:

Amnesty International – EU: New European business human rights law passes crucial vote – 15 Mar. 2024

DW – EU countries back new human rights supply chain law – 15 Mar. 2024

Euronews – EU Policy: Governments support stripped-down corporate due diligence law – 15 Mar. 2024

ESG Today – Watered-down Supply Chain Sustainability Due Diligence Law Passes First Hurdle in EU Parliament – 19 Mar. 2024

European Commission Database – Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence – European Commission – 23 Feb. 2022

University of Nebraska Press – Can Capitalism Be Decolonized? Recentering Indigenous Peoples Values and Ways of Life in the Canadian Art Market – 17 Mar. 2024

Greece Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

By: Neha Chhablani

Visiting Impunity Watch News Writer

ATHENS, Greece – On February 15, 2024, the Greek parliament passed a landmark bill legalizing same-sex marriage and equal parental rights for same-sex couples. Despite strong opposition from the country’s Orthodox Church, 176 out of 300 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted in favor of the bill. Greece is the first Orthodox Christian country to adopt such legislation, marking a step forward for the LGBTQ+ community in Greece and beyond.

LGBTQ+ activists holding a Pride flag outside the Greek Parliament during the 2023 Athens Pride Parade | Photo courtesy of NPR.

Greece’s new bill, which allows same-sex parents to claim legal guardianship of their children and legalizes civil same-sex marriage, was proposed by Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. He cited the bill as reflective of the country’s new progressive and democratic identity.

Greece has been moving towards more inclusive LGBTQ+ policies for almost a decade. It has allowed civil same-sex unions since 2015, granted legal recognition of gender identity in 2017, and banned conversion therapy in 2022. However, this recent bill faced significant pushback from various quarters, with some parties vehemently opposed to the law while others criticized it for not being progressive enough.

The primary opposition to the bill came from Greece’s Orthodox Church, which views homosexuality as a sin. Additionally, far-right parties labeled the bill as “anti-Christian,” arguing that it conflicted with Greece’s national interests.

On the other hand, LGBTQ+ activists noted the bill’s failure to recognize gender identities beyond the binary and shortcomings in facilitating access to reproductive technology for same-sex couples. Syriza, a left-wing party, further critiqued the bill for not granting same-sex couples the ability to become parents through surrogacy.

Despite criticism from both ends of the political spectrum, the bill passed due to substantial backing by 4 left-wing parties (including Syriza, despite its reservations) and rare cross-party unity. With 74 MPs voting against, 2 abstaining, and 46 absent during the vote, the bill easily secured a simple majority.

In passing its marriage equality bill, Greece became the 16th country in the European Union and the 35th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Despina Paraskeva, Amnesty International Greece’s Campaign Coordinator, highlighted the bill’s significance, stating “this law represents an important milestone in the fight against homophobia and transphobia and a hard-won victory for those who have led that fight. It gives same-sex couples and their children the visibility and rights that they have long been denied.”

As anti-LGBTQ+ legislation continues to be passed in countries around the world, Greece’s growing recognition of LGBTQ+ rights and the importance of freedom of expression deserves celebration and sets an example of inclusive policy-making for nations to emulate. 

For further information, please see:

Aljazeera – Greece first Orthodox Christian country to legalise same-sex marriage – 16 Feb. 2024

Amnesty International – Greece: Same-sex marriage recognition, key milestone in fight against homophobia and transphobia – 16 Feb. 2024

NBC News – Greece legalizes same-sex marriage in a first for an Orthodox Christian nation – 15 Feb. 2024

NPR – Greece legalizes same-sex marriage despite church opposition – 15 Feb. 2024

NPR – In Greece, same-sex couples await a landmark parliamentary vote on marriage equality – 14 Feb. 2024

Reuters – Greece legalises same sex marriage in landmark change – Feb 16. 2024




ICC to Hold First In Absentia Hearing Against Ugandan Rebel Leader

By: Tatiana Vaz
Journal of Global Rights and Organizations
, Associate Articles Editor

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – On March 4, 2024, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber II issued a decision granting Prosecutor Karim Kham’s request to hold a confirmation hearing in the case against Joseph Kony in his absence, should he not appear, to commence on October 15, 2024. This is will be the ICC’s first in absentia hearing.

The International Criminal Court’s Headquarters at the Hague. | Photo courtesy of ICC.

Joseph Kony was the founder and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (“LRA”) in Uganda. The LRA is a Ugandan rebel group that currently operates in the border region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), and South Sudan. The group was established by Kony in 1998 with the claim of resorting to the honor of his ethnic Acholi people and installing a government based on his vision of the Ten Commandments. From July 1, 2001, until December 31, 2005, the LRA, an organization within the meaning of Article 7 (2)(a) of the Rome Statue, carried out widespread and systematic attacks against the civil population of northern Uganda.

Joseph Kony is suspected of twelve counts of crimes against humanity including murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement, rape, and inhuman acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering. He is also suspected of 21 counts of war crimes, including murder, cruel treatment of civilians, intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population, pillaging, including rape, and forced enlistment of children between the years of2003 and 2004. The ICC issued a warrant for Kony’s arrest in 2005. However, he remains at large and is the only remaining suspect.

The Rome Statute, which is the treaty that governs the ICC, allows for a confirmation hearing proceeding at the pre-trial stage in the absence of the suspect. The confirmation hearing is not a trial, but it allows the prosecutor the opportunity to outline their case before the court. The Pre- Trial Chamber II consists of Presiding Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala, Judge Tomoko Akane, and Judge Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godinez.

Following the receipt of documents containing the charges against Kony and the Registry report on its efforts to inform Kony on those charges, the Court found that all reasonable steps to inform Kony of the charges against him have been taken within the meaning of Article 61 (2)(b) of the Rome Statue. The Court decided that the confirmation of charges hearing is to be held in the absence of Kony, should he not appear, and will begin October 15, 2024.

The Court also stated that it would ensure Kony’s right to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defense under Article 61 (1)(b) of the Rome Statue, and Rule 121 (1) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence will be fulfilled. The ICC stressed this right in light of the fact that, should the Court definitively decide that there is a cause to authorize a confirmation of charges in Kony’s absence, counsel will have to be appointed to represent his rights and interests in the proceeding.

The Court also required that Counsel have sufficient time to prepare their case Kony’s absence. As a result, the Prosecution must provide the Court with information in terms of the evidence and witnesses they plan to call within four weeks of the notification of the present decision. The Court further instructed the Registry to commence the process of searching for counsel to represent Kony’s rights and interests during the confirmation process and confirmation hearing, should this take place in his absence. The Registry is instructed to report back on their progress within three weeks of the notification of this present decision, whom they will appoint in time for the Prosecution’s disclosure of witnesses and evidence they plan to present.

The ICC’s decision is most certainly a step in the right direction, as many affected communities in Uganda believed it was over and lost hope. The confirmation hearing provides many victims with the opportunity to finally have their voices heard. The ICC has also taken other steps for the victims affected. Earlier this year the ICC granted reparations of more than $56 million to the victims of one of the convicted commanders of the LRA. Victims include former child soldiers and children born as a result of rapes and forced pregnancies. The ICC is currently seeking more state and non-partner assistance to capture Kony.

For further information please see:

AP – ICC Awards $56 Million in Reparations to Thousands of Victims of Convicted Ugandan Rebel Commander – 28 Feb. 2024

AP – International Criminal Court to Hold First Ever in Absentia Hearing Over Ugandan Rebel Leader Kony – 4 Mar. 2024

Counterterrorism Guide – Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – ND

FIDH – Uganda and the ICC: Justice at Last? – 14 Feb. 2024

ICC – Information on the Kony Case – ND

The East African – ICC Prosecutor Seeks Support in Hunt for Ugandan Warlord Kony – 4 Feb. 2023

Reuters – ICC Allows in Absentia Hearings in Case against Ugandan Warlord Kony – 4 Mar. 2024


ECHR Finds Russian Law Enforcement Data Access Laws Violate European Convention of Human Rights

By: Karla Lellis

Impunity Watch News Visiting Writer

STRASBOURG, France – On February 13, 2024, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled against extensive Russian surveillance laws that mandated companies store all internet communications and provide decryption keys to security services upon request. The Court held that such practices violate the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, especially regarding end-to-end encryption decryption requirements.

Telegram app download page. | Photo courtesy of PhysOrg.

The ruling in Podchasov v. Russia represents a resounding victory for advocates of online privacy and free expression. The ruling considers Russia’s indiscriminate data retention and decryption requirements a violation of the fundamental right to privacy enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. The Russian legislation in question had forced internet companies, including the encrypted messaging app Telegram, to retain transcripts of all user communications for six months and metadata for one year. The laws also required firms to hand over any encrypted data to state security agencies like the FSB upon demand, with no sufficient safeguards against misuse.

The case was brought by the applicant Podchasov, a Telegram user investigated for suspected terrorism ties. He challenged the Russian data hoarding and decryption rules as violating Article 8’s privacy guarantee in communications. Ruling in favor of Podchasov, the ECHR found that the Russian mass surveillance regime permitted “public authorities to have access, on a generalized basis and without sufficient safeguards, to the content of electronic communications” — an unacceptable impairment of privacy rights.

The ruling underscores encryption’s crucial role in safeguarding digital privacy and free expression in the modern era. As the United Nations has affirmed, encryption is vital for protecting rights and enabling open communication on sensitive issues without the fear of unwarranted surveillance or repression.

While acknowledging that encryption creates obstacles for policing, the Court made clear that blanket data seizures and decryption mandates are disproportionate solutions that undermine online privacy and security for all.

For further information, please see:

ECHR – Guide on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – 31 Aug. 2022

ECHR Docket – Podchasov v. Russia, App. No. 33696/19 – 13 Feb. 2024

ECHR Docket – Roman Zakharov V. Russia, App. No. 47143/06 – 4 Dec. 2015

ECHR Docket – Telegram Messenger Llp and Telegram Messenger Inc. Against Russia, App. No. 13232/18 – 16 Nov. 2020

Humans Right Watch – Russia: Growing Internet Isolation, Control, Censorship Authorities Regulate Infrastructure, Block Content – 18 Jun. 2020

Phys Org – Telegram must give FSB encryption keys: Russian court – 20 Mar. 2018

Russian Federation – Criminal-Procedural Code Of The Russian Federation No. 174-Fz – 18 Dec 2001

Russian Government – Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation – ND

Telegram – FAQ – ND

ICC Issues Arrest Warrants for Russian Military Officers

By: Sarah Sandoval 

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer 

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands – On March 5, 2024, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber II issued warrants for the arrest of two Russian military officers, arising from the ICC’s investigation into the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

The International Court of Justice located at The Hague. | Photo courtesy of ICC.

The Court issued arrests warrants for Sergei Ivanovich Kobylash and Viktor Nikolayevich Sokolov regarding their involvement in attacks directed at civilian objects, causing excessive incidental harm to civilians, and inhumane acts. These offenses are in direct opposition to the Rome Statute, the treaty which governs the ICC. The Pre-Trial Chamber II, consisting of Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala, Presiding, Judge Tomoko Akane and Judge Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godinez, found that there are reasonable grounds that Kobylash and Sokolov are responsible for missile strikes against Ukrainian electric infrastructure from October 10, 2022 to March 9, 2023. These alleged missile strikes were carried out by forces under the command of Kobylash (Commander of the Long-Range Aviation of the Aerospace Force at the time) and Sokolov (Commander of the Black Sea Fleet during the time of the strikes). The strikes were either directed at civilian objects, or the damage to civilians would have been clearly anticipated and excessive. 

In a statement released by the ICC, Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC says, “all wars have rules. Those rules bind all without exception.” Kobylash, a Lieutenant General in the Russian Armed Forces, and Sokolov, an Admiral in the Russian Navy, join only two others in the list of individuals with outstanding warrants arising out of the situation in Ukraine. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the Russian Federation, and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, also have outstanding warrants for the unlawful deportation of children and the unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. Both warrants were issued on March 17, 2023. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the BBC that Russia does not recognize the ICC’s arrest warrants, as they are not under the jurisdiction of the Rome Statute. As such, it is unlikely that Kobylash and Sokolov will be extradited into the custody of the ICC.

For further information, please see: 

ICC – Ukraine

ICC – Situation in Ukraine: ICC judges issue arrest warrants against Sergei Ivanovich Kobylash and Viktor Nikolayevich Sokolov – March 5, 2024

ICC – Statement by Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC on the issuance of arrest warrants in the Situation in Ukraine – March 5, 2024

ICC – Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – July 1, 2002

BBC – Russia-Ukraine war: Moscow ignores arrest warrants for Putin commanders – March 6, 2024