YGA’s international extravaganza: no. 8

Malta on high-risk list for money laundering and terrorist financing

by Connor Crout

image credit: peter-facebook (Pixabay)

Malta has been put on the UK’s high-risk list for money laundering and terrorist financing.

This is not the first time this year that Malta has been listed for financial reasons – in June, the Financial Action Task Force (the inter-governmental body that combats money laundering) placed Malta on its grey list , meaning that monitoring on Malta will be increased. In response to this, the Maltese government released a statement saying that they didn’t believe they deserved to be monitored given that they’ve launched a programme of reforms over the last two years.

Malta will need to demonstrate progress on a list of recommendations to be removed from the list.

75 Years since the US begun dropping nuclear bombs on the Marshall Islands

by Dylan Nykamp

image credit: Robert Huffstutter

In 1946, the US selected the Marshall Islands as the site of 67 nuclear weapons tests. 23 of these targeted the Bikini Atoll.

After asking Bikini Islanders to relocate the Rongerik Atoll, an uninhabited island lacking food and water, US authorities promised the residents that they would be able to return home after the nuclear tests.

After around 100 people returned to Bikini, it was discovered that the food and water on the island were too radioactive for human consumption. Radiation resulted in miscarriages, stillbirths, and genetic abnormalities in children. The Bikini islanders were relocated for a second time.

The Bikini islanders have since received some compensation in the form of Trust and Resettlements Funds. However, the US Congress continues to refuse to fund the settlement of $500 million ordered by the Nuclear Claims Tribunal.

Mauritanian president jailed following corruption probe

by Adam Spencer

image credit: Daniel Born

Former Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was jailed in late June following numerous corruption charges.

The former president was charged in March with numerous charges, including economic mismanagement, money laundering and illicit enrichment. The president and his defence team reject these charges as being politicised to keep him out of politics, after a coup resulted in his ex-defence minister taking over as president in 2019. Ribat National, the opposition party Aziz joined after being ousted from power, have also demanded his release, calling the imprisonment ‘illegal, irresponsible and non-democratic’.

The ruling marks the first time a North African leader has ever been officially charged and imprisoned.

Mauritius to become IP hub?

by Harry Padoan

image credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters

Mauritius is being tipped to attract some of the world’s leading corporations to create IP holding companies in the nation. One of the country’s biggest assets is its political and economic stability. Mauritius ranks first out of the 26 sub-Saharan economies, with preferential access to some of Africa’s top markets. 

New IP laws set out in 2019 are set to be enacted soon, driving innovation and bettering infrastructure for exclusively high-quality investment. Not only this, but, entry into the Madrid protocol, allowing for trademarks to be effectively managed, has many corporations crying out for said laws to be enacted. 

Mexican Drug cartel threatens reporter

by Jessica Pender

image credit: Brett Jordan

The message was posted via an online video by a man who is alleged to be the leader of the Jalisco New Generation cartel. The threat, addressed to journalist Azucena Uresti, accused her of biased coverage. The cartel warned that “[they] will make you eat your words even if they accuse me of femicide”.

As a news anchor Ms. Uresti presents Milenio TV’s nightly news programme, and is a well known journalist. She has gained visibility for her coverage of cartel violence and the vigilante groups that combat them.

Sustainability certificates awarded to Micronesian companies

by Joshua Chapman

image credit: Aziz SALTIK (Flickr)

Three companies based in Micronesia have been awarded Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certificates after a fishery off the Micronesian coast also gained certification. The MSC approved the fishery on 5 August, at the same time giving Liancheng Overseas Fishery, Caroline Fisheries Corporation and DaYang Seafoods certification at the same time. The certificates are internationally recognised as ensuring sustainable and environmentally sound fishing methods.

As fish is one of Micronesia’s biggest exports, this development is highly welcomed. The Executive Director of the National Oceanic Resource Management Authority, Eugene Pangelinan, said it allowed Micronesia to join as ‘leaders of the sustainability efforts around the world [and] to supply tuna products to consumers globally’. With overfishing a big threat to marine biodiversity, these certificates will also ensure that the existing shoals of tuna and other protected species are fished at sustainable levels.

Relations between Moldova and Russia warm

by Joe Mawer

image credit: 2427999 (Pixabay)

When Maia Sandu triumphed over Igor Dodon in the last Moldovan presidential elections many in the West thought that Moldova would become a more western looking country. This view was strengthened by Sandu’s call for Russian troops to leave Transnistria, which is widely recognised as a breakaway region of Moldova but by Russia as an independent country.

The news that Moldova and Russia have signed an agreement that has reduced tariffs therefore has raised eyebrows. This is especially important for Moldova as it brings an end to the Russian sanctions on Moldovan wine. This product makes up 7.5 percent of Moldovan exports and Moldova is the 20th biggest wine producer in the world. The lifting of the ban is a major boost to the fragile Moldovan economy. This agreement has not been a complete win for Moldova as Sandu is now being less bullish on Transnistria, although this does not mean that they have given up previously gained autonomy over the region again.

Monaco debates compulsory Covid vaccinations

by Max Bedford

image credit: lecreusois (Pixabay)

Prince Albert II has called a special session of the national council for the third week of September in order to debate a bill calling for compulsory Covid vaccinations for certain professions. This largely concerns workers within Monegasque health establishments, 66 percent of which have already received the vaccine. Those who fail to get vaccinated within four weeks of the Bill passing into law, or after four weeks of joining the force, would be automatically suspended on half pay for four weeks; then suspended with no pay if they still fail to receive the vaccine.

The Bill has raised debate within Monaco over personal autonomy and public good, however the Monaco population has widely accepted the ‘Monaco Safe Pass’, being adopted by over 50 percent of the population by the end of July, suggesting the population is not opposed to government intervention to maintain public health.

Quarantine linked to rise in juvenile crime

by Megan Edwards

image credit: Free-Photos (Pixabay)

Following a decline in juvenile delinquency earlier this year, crimes involving children and adolescents have been on the rise in Mongolia. Compared to February 2021 there was a seven times increase in crimes involving minors in July of the same year. These crimes include several murders, as well as other serious offences.

The rise in crime has been deemed to be a secondary effect of the Covid quarantine, as children are deprived of vital opportunities for education and social development, families struggle financially, and the population as a whole struggles to deal with the emotional impact of the pandemic.

Montenegro barely covers Chinese loan instalment

by Owen Buchan

image credit: Alexander Schimmeck

The Balkan nation of Montenegro has paid its first loan instalment at the last minute to the Exim Bank of China. Montenegro borrowed one billion dollars from Exim to pay for a vital motorway. There was fear that Montenegro would be unable to pay the loan back, as its national debt rose to 103 percent of its GDP. Being unable to pay back an instalment had people fearing Montenegro would be caught in a debt trap with China.

The EU and USA stepped in to assist Montenegro, agreeing on a deal with the Government that saw the Chinese loans interest rate drop from 2 percent to 0.88 percent. It is hoped that this debt interest rate reduction will give Montenegro some breathing room to better manage its financial issues and avoid this panic in the future.

Curfew pulls the curtains on Moroccan night-time culture

by Rachael Ward

image credit: Paul Sableman

The curtains have been closed on Moroccan nightlife as a newly imposed curfew curbs the freedom of the population. The curfew persists from 9pm to 5am while traveling between key cities is also prohibited. The three cities where travel is forbidden without full vaccination are Marrakesh, Casablanca, and Agadir. The curfew is one piece within a cluster of new restrictions imposed to suspend the spread of the virus amid a fresh surge in cases.

As hospitality venues are compelled to close their doors at 9pm, gyms and swimming pools are also shutting up shop for the time being. The capacity has been capped on hotels and other venues while large events such as weddings are called off. A summer of struggle lies ahead for a tourism sector at the mercy of rising rates of infection and unforgiving restrictions.

Rwandan and Mozambican forces drive out insurgents

by Gracie Daw

image credit: Steve Evans

Insurgents have been fighting in northern Mozambique since 2017, and this month 1000 Rwandan forces were deployed to help the Mozambican army in the province. This week, the Rwandan forces announced that Mocímboa da Praia, a key port city and the insurgents last stronghold was taken.

Since it was occupied by Rwandan and Mozambican forces, it has been described as a ‘ghost town’. This highlights the 3100 people who have died and 820,000 who have been displaced since fighting began four years ago. It is hoped that this marks a turning point against the insurgency, but there are fears abroad as the Mozambique Defence Force is viewed as corrupt. 

A nation on the brink of collapse

by Toby Gill

image credit: Peggy_Marco (Pixabay)

Since the unlawful military takeover in February, Myanmar has been facing intense social unrest, as protests are ruthlessly suppressed, and ethnic minority militias battle it out with the military. 

Recently, the situation has worsened. The pandemic severely impacted the country’s already unstable economy, and now the country faces mass poverty, nationwide food shortages, a crumbling healthcare system and brutal military rule. In April, UN officials announced that over 6.2 million Burmese could go hungry by October if the situation continued to deteriorate. 

This collapse of state infrastructure coincides with a savage third wave of Covid which is hitting the country “like a tsunami”, according to World Food Programme Officials on Sunday. Myanmar’s economic collapse, civil unrest and worsening health crisis could spiral into a full-blown humanitarian disaster, which would have massive ramifications for the region as a whole.

Namibian elephant auction criticised

by Frank Roberts

image credit: Pexels (Pixabay)

57 wild elephants have been sold at auction by the Namibian environment ministry, in a move which has attracted criticism amongst some activists. Approximately 100,000 people signed a petition condemning the auction, the outcome of which resulted in 42 elephants being exported abroad. The Namibian government has claimed the proceeds will be re-directed towards broader elephant conservation efforts.

The government cited a desire to remove elephants from certain areas where conflict with the human population may occur. 170 elephants were offered at the auction, those who remained unsold are expected to stay within their current habitats. Prospective buyers were compelled to show evidence they possessed game-proof fences to lessen the risk of poaching.

Nauru: ‘Refugee Island’

by Tiffany Choong

image credit: John Englart (Flickr)

Since 2013, around 3,000 to 4,000 people have been sent to offshore detention centres in Nauru or Papua New Guinea. This began when the Australian government issued a policy in 2012 that certain refugees who were disallowed asylum would be sent away. Yet the “Nauru Documents”, exposed in 2016, told of the harsh and inhuman conditions where victims were tortured and assaulted.

The extreme poor conditions caused a number of human rights violations, and Australia’s acts on offshore processing were greatly criticised. As of June 2021, the number of detainees in Nauru declined to 108, as countries work to take in refugees and to put an end to this problematic crisis.

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