Minute to Minute NEWS!

US Shields Saudi Leader: Daily Brief – Human Rights Watch

Help us continue to fight human rights abuses. Please give now to support our work
Every weekday, get the world’s top human rights news, explored and explained by Andrew Stroehlein. See today’s issue on this page.
In today’s Daily Brief: Biden Helps Saudi Leader Evade Justice Good News for Protecting Civilians in War FIFA Adds Insult to Injury Take Note Reader Challenge: Define This! Quote of the Day: India
Sorry this newsletter is a bit late today, but I’ve been busy picking my jaw up off the floor after seeing the latest US-Saudi news. 
Of course, it’s not a complete surprise the US would assist Saudi Arabia. Washington has backed its ally for decades despite the kingdom’s long list of appalling abuses at home and abroad.  
But that the Biden Administration has decided to protect Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman personally by shielding him from legal action in the US in a case dealing with the brutal 2018 murder of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi – that’s shocking.  
This is next-level craven. 
Remember that, in February 2021, US intelligence revealed that MBS approved Khashoggi’s murder. Khashoggi was lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and killed inside, his body then dismembered with a bone saw. 
The civil case against Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, and more than 20 other alleged co-conspirators, was filed in a district court in Washington, DC, by both Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, and Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).  
The US government is not a party to the case, but last week, the US State Department presented a statement of interest that “recognizes and allows the immunity of Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman as a sitting head of government of a foreign state.” 
Conveniently timed, MBS was appointed as prime minister in September.  
Even without Biden’s campaign promise to make Saudi authorities “pay the price” for Khashoggi’s heinous murder, it simply seems beyond explanation that the US government can both declare someone is behind a murder and decide he can’t be taken to court for that murder in the US.  
Last month in this newsletter, we discussed the word “impunity” and how the under-appreciated term really means, “getting away with murder” or some other crime.  
And what do perpetrators learn from getting away with a crime? That there will be no consequences for doing it again. 
Imagine trying to get 82 countries to agree on anything… 
After three years of negotiations, we should celebrate a new political declaration that seeks to better protect civilians in conflicts – signed by exactly that many governments. 
The landmark international pledge, endorsed at a high-level event in Dublin, Ireland, on Friday, is the first to formally address the leading cause of civilian casualties in armed conflict: the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.  
Certain explosive weapons – think aircraft bombs, artillery, rockets, and missiles – can maim and kill over a wide area due to their large blast and fragmentation radius, inaccuracy, or delivery of multiple munitions at the same time. 
The declaration recognizes how these weapons not only cause direct physical and psychological injury, but can also damage infrastructure, like education and health care, as well as the environment, over the longer term.  
In addition, it acknowledges how they can be a driver of displacement, sending people fleeing from their cities and from their countries. 
With strong interpretation and effective implementation, the declaration could play a valuable role in reducing the harm caused to civilians in conflicts. The fact it was signed by many producers and exporters of explosive weapons – including France, South Korea, Turkey, and the United States – bodes well. 
If he was going for maximum crass, Gianni Infantino nailed it. 
Speaking at a press conference on the eve of the 2022 World Cup, the president of global football, FIFA, said, among other things, “I feel [like] a migrant worker.”  
The World Cup in Qatar was basically built from the ground up by migrant workers, thousands of whom lost their lives to unexplained causes or suffered injuries while building infrastructure related to the tournament. Many more were cheated out of being paid – and some arrested and deported when they complained about it. 
Perhaps Infantino was trying to sound like he identified with them or at least sympathized with their plight, but it certainly didn’t come across that way, as widespreadcriticism and outrage from numerouscommentators made clear. 
He made matters worse by trying to claim Qatar had already addressed the grievances of migrant workers and their surviving families, when clearly those many grievances remain.  
As a result, Infantino just came across as heartless: pretending to care about the abused while siding fully with the abusers. 
(compiled by Emily Palomo
Police forcibly disperse APEC protesters in Thailand (HRW)  
In war-torn states hurt by climate change, scant hope for new funds (AP News)  
How gender dynamics are shaping the war in Ukraine (Foreign Affairs)  
Searching for the site that best represents the impact of humans on the planet (El Pais International)  
As part of our irregular examination of the terms human rights wonks use, I’m drafting a short article on the phrase, “accountability mechanism.”  
How would you define, “accountability mechanism”? 
Please email me or contact me on Twitter or Mastodon with your thoughts. 
Human Rights Watch defends the rights of people in 90 countries worldwide, spotlighting abuses and bringing perpetrators to justice
Human Rights Watch is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit registered in the US under EIN: 13-2875808