DGI Brief - Dec 21, 2016
- RUSSIA: The US Treasury Department blacklisted 7 businessmen & 8 corporations involved in activities that are said to have aided Russian government in its occupation of Crimea & continued aggression against Ukraine. Why it matters: Although such targeted sanctions are part of regular update of sanctions (every 6 months), the designation is a show of support to the European Union who announced their extension of sanctions against Russia just a day earlier. There were concerns as a number of EU members – Italy, Hungary & Slovakia – were against the renewal, but common sense prevailed. It’s not only that sanctions work, but it’s also about the strength in unity. However, this may be the last time USA backs up its European partners given the pro-Russian rhetoric of the incoming Trump administration.
- THE PHILIPPINES: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein issued a statement calling for a murder investigation of President Duterte following his recent remarks that he shot & killed 3 suspected kidnappers while mayor of Davao city in 1988. Why it matters: These claims add to the concerns about the government’s deadly anti-drug campaign that has seen over 6,000 people killed extra-judicially. No charges, no trials, just carnage & fear left behind. Duterte’s allies say that constitutionally, the president is immune from investigation & prosecution for alleged crimes before he assumed office. Will Duterte follow on his threat to withdraw the Philippines from the UN after these human rights inquiries? He sure can play the game, throw around tough rhetoric but the UN is providing so much aid, running so many programs for his country, he’d have to be a fool…
- ETHIOPIA: Government is releasing 9,800 people, most from the Oromia & Amhara regions who were detained protesting land seizures & what would mean a subsequent new administration over them. The government plans to charge additional 2,500 detainees with destabilizing the country. Why it matters: the wave of protests began in November 2015 & violence quickly spread leaving 100s dead. Government security forces began massive arrests, accused of excessive force. They now say people can be released after receiving lot of training – what that means exactly is unclear. What is certain is that one of Africa’s best-performing economies won’t end the state of emergency until April 2017, but hopefully this release can be seen as a positive step towards normalization. It is important for the government to work with all its regions if it intends to avoid the security & economic instability of its neighbors.