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Iraq's Chaotic ISIS Trials: Daily Brief

Plus: Yemen's need for justice; Turkey violating free speech & academic freedom; Russia begins listing media outlets as "foreign agents," ICC chief prosecutor's investigation into UK actions in Iraq; and the death penalty for "mocking" God in Mauritania?


  1. A baker's refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple has led to a showdown at the US Supreme Court. In a decision expected soon, the Court will decide whether the baker's religious beliefs constituted legitimate grounds for refusing service to the couple. Discrimination against LGBT people is wrong and the Court should send a clear message that it will not be tolerated in the US.
  2. The surge of immigration arrests of people living in the United States under the Trump administration is having a devastating impact on long-term immigrants with strong ties to the US. People are being wrenched from their families, and many do not even have a criminal conviction. This is the brutal, destructive face of Trump's immigration policy.
  3. German pilots are refusing to deport asylum seekers, grounding more than 200 flights in the country. The pilots were being asked to carry asylum seekers back to Afghanistan, where conflict is still claiming thousands of civilian lives per year and people remain at risk of torture and persecution.
  4. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the war raging in the Central African Republic. Both sides in the conflict are engaging in sexual violence, and survivors are left with the scars of rape and sexual slavery. Some girls never return to school because of the stigma of rape. As we mark this year's 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, it's time to ensure that no one else is left behind.
  5. From earlier today: The Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are conducting thousands of trials of Islamic State suspects without a strategy to prioritize the worst abuses under Iraqi and international law. A new report details the haphazard approach and rampant due process violations are likely to deny justice to the victims of the worst abuses during ISIS control of parts of Iraq.
  6. The killing of former longtime Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, on December 4, 2017, underlines the need for governments to support the new United Nations expert panel to investigate abuses by all sides to Yemen’s war.
  7. In Turkey, major trials against academics start today. At least 146 academics from public and private universities in Istanbul will face individual and separate trial hearings for “spreading terrorist propaganda” for signing a January 2016 petition criticizing the Turkish government’s actions in southeastern Turkey. The state is seriously violating the right to free speech and academic freedom, as well as clearly abusing anti-terrorism laws.
  8. Russia has begun listing media outlets as "foreign agents." The move follows new legislation in retaliation against a US Department of Justice September request that the Russian state-funded television channel, RT, comply with registration requirements under the US Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). “The US government’s misguided decision to request for RT to register under FARA gave the Kremlin a platform to retaliate, and they have done so with a full throttle attack on media freedom," said HRW's Hugh Williamson.