the brief: issue thirty-seven


Nigeria holds 2023 Presidential Elections amid rising security concerns and economic hardship
by Henry Neale

image credit: Xtianolove (Wikimedia Commons)

In Nigeria, presidential elections are currently underway to replace outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari. Amid a total of 18 candidates, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP are considered the frontrunners. However, Peter Obi of the Labour party is said to hold great support among Nigeria’s youth, pledging to battle corruption whilst promising investments in technology and education. 

Nigeria has been plagued by immense insecurity, with militant Islamist groups wreaking havoc in the North of the country. Similarly, the economic downturn has left many suffering a cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation and unemployment. Many expect a great increase in voter turnout as a result of growing national frustration. Concerns have also been raised regarding the nature of elite rule in Nigeria, with the political system seemingly distorted towards maintaining the wealth and influence of those in power, painting a concerning picture for the West African state.


Violence Flares in Israel-Palestine Escalation
by Aidan O’Connor

image credit: Raneen Sawafta (Reuters)

An exchange of fire has taken place between the Gaza Strip and Israel following bloody raids in the West Bank. A total of six rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip on 23 February, five of which were shot down, with the final rocket not causing any fatalities or injuries. In response, Israel struck two locations claimed by Israel to be Hamas militant sites.

The exchange of fire comes after 11 Palestinians, including a 72-year-old and 16-year-old, were killed by Israeli forces in a raid in the West Bank on Wednesday, following the deaths of ten other Palestinians in another Israeli raid last month. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, a further 80 people suffered bullet wounds in the recent confrontation, with five hospitals now treating the wounded. The carnage risks a further escalation of tensions between the highly divided Israeli and Palestinian communities.


New sanctions against Russia
by Louise Cresswell

image credit: RiedleroD (Wikimedia Commons)

Keeping in line with the US’ sanction decisions, the UK has banned the export of every item that the Ukrainian military has reported seeing the Russian army use on the battlefield. This includes radio equipment and raw parts that could be assembled for military use. Also included in this new wave of sanctions are Russian nuclear production companies and four Russian financial service centres. 

This is part of the wider western tactic of distancing Russia from the international financial, economic and trading  system, a process that started with Mastercard and Visa suspending services in the country at the very start of the conflict.

North America

PM Trudeau calls Google’s news-blocking test in Canada ‘a terrible idea’
by Orestis Sechas

Image credit: European Parliament (Flickr)

On February 22, Google confirmed that it is running tests to block access to news content for some Canadian users in response to a new bill introduced by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. The tests will likely impact less than 4 percent of users in Canada, and limit the visibility of Canadian and international news to varying degrees. The ‘Online News Act,’ or House of Commons bill C-18, could force large online platforms, like Meta’s Facebook, to negotiate commercial deals with news publishers in Canada and pay them for content. 

Trudeau, speaking at a press conference, said the blocking of news in Canada was an issue ‘bothering’ him: ‘I think that’s a terrible mistake and I know Canadians expect journalists to be well paid for the work they do.’ The legislation is currently being considered by the Canadian Senate and is expected to become law in the coming month.


When a research trip goes awry….
by Neo Allert

image credit: Mike Rohsopht (Wikimedia Commons)

Professor Bryce Baker and doctoral student Teppsy Beni from the University of Queensland had simply wanted to conduct some archeological research in the remote Papua New Guinean villages of Fagoma’iu when they were abducted by a group of heavily armed men. Taken as hostages, demands have since been voiced for a ransom to be paid. After negotiations as well as a covert police operation, the group of researchers, which also included Papua New Guinea National Museum researcher Jemina Haro, could finally be rescued on 26 February.

The group has since returned to Port Moresby, the national capital, where Prime Minister James Marape has been eagerly awaiting their arrival. Papua New Guinea has seen an influx in tribal warfare and the rapid proliferation of armed groups in recent years, leading to growing insecurity in the densely forested jungle hills.

South America

First prisoners arrive at El Salvador’s mega-prison
by Eleanor Austin

Image credit: Mike Rohsopht (Wikimedia Commons)

2,000 suspected gang members have arrived at El Salvador’s new ‘mega-prison’ as part of President Bukele’s war on crime. The prison is supposed to have  a capacity of over 40,000 inmates. This prison is at the core of Bukele’s gang crackdown, which increased under the recently announced state of emergency. 

Since its implementation in March 2022, Bukele’s policies have received substantial criticism. Although the state of emergency was enacted due to a rapid increase in gang violence, the actions seen in the past year have been called undemocratic and branded a human rights violation internationally. Human Rights Watch reported that incidents of torture, arrest quotas, and discrimination against minorities have increased under this state of emergency. 

In the past year, over 64,000 suspects have been arrested, all without the right to a lawyer. It seems as though this is only the start of Bukele’s crime crackdown, leaving many concerned.

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