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Myanmar police file charges against Aung San Suu Kyi after coup

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Myanmar police have filed charges against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi for illegally importing communications equipment and she will be detained until 15 February for investigations, according to a police document, write Matthew Tostevin, Grant McCool and Stephen Coates.
Pots clang and medical workers strike in Myanmar
The move followed a military coup on Monday and the detention of Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi and other civilian politicians. The takeover cut short Myanmar’s long transition to democracy and drew condemnation from the United States and other Western countries.

A police request to a court detailing the accusations against Suu Kyi, 75, said six walkie-talkie radios had been found in a search of her home in the capital Naypyidaw. The radios were imported illegally and used without permission, it said.

The document reviewed on Wednesday (3 February) requested Suu Kyi’s detention “in order to question witnesses, request evidence and seek legal counsel after questioning the defendant”.

A separate document showed police filed charges against ousted President Win Myint for violating protocols to stop the spread of coronavirus during campaigning for an election last November.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won the election in a landslide but the military claimed it was marred by fraud and justified its seizure of power on those grounds.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach the police, the government or the court for comment.

The chair of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Charles Santiago, said the new charges were ludicrous.

“This is an absurd move by the junta to try to legitimize their illegal power grab,” he said in a statement.

Myanmar coup threatens ceasefire, ethnic rebel leader says

The electoral commission had said the vote was fair.

Suu Kyi spent about 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010 as she led the country’s democracy movement, and she remains hugely popular at home despite damage to her international reputation over the plight of Muslim Rohingya refugees in 2017.

The NLD made no immediate comment. A party official said on Tuesday he had learned she was under house arrest in the capital, Naypyidaw, and was in good health

The party said earlier in a statement that its offices had been raided in several regions and it urged authorities to stop what it called unlawful acts after its election victory.

Opposition to the junta headed by Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing has begun to emerge in Myanmar.

Staff at scores of government hospitals across the country of 54 million people stopped work or wore red ribbons as part of a civil disobedience campaign.

The newly formed Myanmar Civil Disobedience Movement said doctors at 70 hospitals and medical departments in 30 towns had joined the protest. It accused the army of putting its interests above a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 3,100 people in Myanmar, one of the highest tolls in Southeast Asia.

“We really cannot accept this,” said 49-year-old Myo Myo Mon, who was among the doctors who stopped work to protest.

“We will do this in a sustainable way, we will do it in a non-violent way...This is the route our state counselor desires,” she said, referring to Suu Kyi by her title.

The latest coup is a massive blow to hopes that Myanmar is on a path to stable democracy. The junta has declared a one-year state of emergency and has promised to hold fair elections, but has not said when.

The Group of Seven largest developed economies condemned the coup on Wednesday and said the election result must be respected.

“We call upon the military to immediately end the state of emergency, restore power to the democratically-elected government, to release all those unjustly detained and to respect human rights and the rule of law,” the G7 said in a statement.

China has not specifically condemned the coup in its neighbour but the foreign ministry rejected the suggestion that it supported or gave tacit consent to it.

“We wish that all sides in Myanmar can appropriately resolve their differences and uphold political and social stability,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a briefing.

At the United Nations on Tuesday (2 February), its special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, urged the Security Council to “collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar”.

But a diplomat with China’s U.N. mission said it would be difficult to reach consensus on the draft statement and that any action should avoid escalating tension or complicating the situation.

US President Joe Biden has threatened to reimpose sanctions on the generals who seized power.

US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tried but was unable to connect to Myanmar’s military following the coup.

The military had ruled the former British colony from 1962 until Suu Kyi’s party came to power in 2015 under a constitution that guarantees the generals a major role in government.

Her international standing as a human rights champion was badly damaged over the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in 2017 and her defence of the military against accusations of genocide.

Economy

Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro

Catherine Feore

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Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.

President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”

The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi. 

European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.

Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.

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EU

European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case

Reuters

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An investigation by Germany into a deadly 2009 airstrike near the Afghan city of Kunduz that was ordered by a German commander complied with its right-to-life obligations, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday (16 February), writes .

The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.

In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.

The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.

Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.

For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.

The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.

Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.

A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.

Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

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EU

Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation

EU Reporter Correspondent

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On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.

At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.

The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.

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