Week 31: News roundup

July 31, 2023
5 mins read
Police personnel examine the site of a bomb blast in Bajaur district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

West Asia

Occupied Territories of Palestine 

Israeli forces have arrested at least 570 Palestinian children in the first six months of 2023. On July 23, Palestinian Information Center quoting the director of the Palestinian Center for Prisoners Studies (PCPS) said, 29 of the minors arrested by the Israeli forces were below the age of 12. 

Riyad al-Ashqar, the director of PCPS claimed that the figure was 15% higher than the same period last year. Israeli forces had detained at least 865 Palestinian children in 2022. He claimed that 23 Palestinian children were sent to illegal administrative detention by Israeli courts in this period. 

Administrative detention is widely used by Israel to keep Palestinians in prison for months or even years without trial or charge. An overwhelming majority of the Palestinian children detained by the occupation forces (435 out of 570) are from occupied East Jerusalem. 

UN special rapporteur on human rights in Palestinian territories, Francesca Albanese, in a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council earlier this month said that “approximately 10,000 Palestinian children have experienced institutionalized ill-treatment during arrests, prosecutions, and sentencing and the consequent traumas on themselves and their families.”  

Thousands of Palestinian children have also been killed during the Israeli occupation forces’ aggression inside the occupied territories since 1967. Israeli forces have killed at least 202 Palestinians this year—165 in the occupied West Bank and 37 in Gaza. 


There is a growing concern in Jordan after the Jordanian parliament tabled a draft of cybercrime law for discussion, which has invoked concerns by human rights groups, activists, and journalists. Hundreds of protesters demanding its repeal gathered in front of the parliament in the capital Amman on July 26. Those opposing the bill fear new amendments will affect the right to free speech and expression, the right to privacy and anonymity, and the right to information. 

The proposed law has provisions for jail time and financial penalties, which could be as high as 25,000-50,000 Jordanian Dinars. Lawmakers will be deliberating on 41 amendments the government has introduced to replace the existing 2015 cybercrime law. 

The proposed law, according to the reports, bans VPN technology, which is used widely by Jordanians to circumvent restricted internet access in the country. Furthermore, it introduces criminal charges related to the use of the internet and social media, such as undermining national unity, inciting immorality, spreading fake news, character assassination, and publishing hate speech. Human rights groups have demanded that the draft law be scrapped as it poses a threat to the digital rights of Jordanians.

Central America

El Salvador

On July 26, El Salvador’s Congress passed a reform to the Law Against Organized Crime, that increases penalties for people named as leaders of criminal groups and allows for mass trials. The measure was approved with 67 votes out of a possible 84 in the Legislative Assembly. The reform allows provisional detention for up to 24 months without trial.

President Nayib Bukele has proposed this reform, which comes at a time when a state emergency was approved in the Central American country, following a wave of violence that Bukele’s government said was caused by a dispute between rival gangs. Bukele has requested the extension of the state of emergency 16 times. Over 70,000 people have been detained during the period of emergency rule, accused of belonging to, or collaborating with, criminal groups.

Under the new rules, it is allowed to “submit accused persons to a single criminal proceeding for belonging to the same terrorist structure or criminal group”. Mass trials can have up to 900 people in the dock simultaneously. In addition, gang leaders have had their maximum sentence increased from 45 to 60 years in jail.

South America


According to the Institute of Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ), a Colombian human rights organization, at least 94 social leaders and 23 ex-combatants have been assassinated between January 1 and July 23, 2023. While 179 citizens were murdered in 55 massacres

During the same time period in 2022, between January 1 and July 31 of 2022, INDEPAZ reported that there were targeted killings of 117 social activists and 30 former guerrilla fighters, while over 196 people were slaughtered in 58 massacres.

On July 23, Tiberio Chepe Zeti, an Indigenous leader and traditional doctor of the Kwe’x Yu Kiwe territory, was assassinated in the Florida municipality in the Valle del Cauca department. The day before, on July 22, social leader Ilder Díaz, who was currently a candidate for the Policarpa municipal council, in the Nariño department, was murdered in the municipality. 

North Africa


A major wildfire caused by a massive heat wave across the Mediterranean region has killed 34 people in Algeria. The wildfire has forced large-scale displacement in the north African country.

The soaring temperature hit a record 48 degrees Celsius last week and has remained high, leading to over 97 blazes in 16 provinces across Algeria, mostly in the north-east of the country, according to the Interior Ministry. This year, high temperatures and wildfires have been recorded all across the Mediterranean region, with Greece experiencing one of the worst wildfires in its history. Italy is also facing a similar situation.   

Wildfires and high temperatures have become the norm in Algeria for the last couple of years. In 2021, at least 90 people were killed in such fires, mostly in the north-east. Last year, at least 37 people were killed in the northeastern El-Tarf province bordering Tunisia. 

South Asia


At least 47 people have lost their lives in the recent flash floods that submerged seven districts of Afghanistan last week, according to the Disaster Management Authority. Dozens more have been injured. Maidan Wardak experienced the deadliest flooding in which 32 people died followed by Jalrez, which is located some 70 kms from Kabul city, on July 23.  

Nearly 100,000 families have been affected by natural disasters in different provinces this year, with 1200 families getting displaced in the recent flooding in Maidan Wardak and Logar provinces. The Taliban Ministry of State for Disaster Management said that nearly 200 people have been killed in natural disasters in the past four months. 

Thousands of Afghans are grappling in the aftermath of flooding that have damaged hundreds of residential houses, livestock and thousands of acres of agricultural land, as per Khaama Press


At least 54 people have been killed after a suicide bomber attacked a political convention organized by an religious party in northwestern Pakistan’s Bajaur district? – a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan.

Local police said the attacker detonated explosives near the convention’s stage. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which also wounded nearly 200 people. Police said their initial investigation suggested that the Islamic State group’s regional affiliate could be behind the attack.

The victims were attending a rally organized by the Jamiat Ulema Islam party (JUI-F), headed by cleric and po?litician Fazlur Rehman, who was not present at the rally.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif “strongly condemned” the blast, according to a statement released by his office. The JUI-F is an ally of the coalition government of PM Sharif who denounced the blast as an attack on the democratic process.

While the TTP and associated groups have been behind most of the attacks in recent months, the group distanced itself from Sunday’s attack with a spokesman condemning it. A mosque bombing in Peshawar city in the northwest killed more than 100 people in January but attacks on political parties are rare.


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