This Week Around the World

April 6 Guinea: President Alpha Conde enacted a new constitution via television announcement following a controversial referendum held on March 22. Conde, who was the country’s first democratically elected president in 2010, claimed the new constitution will implement measures to create necessary social change, including a ban on female genital mutilation and underage marriage. Conde’s opponents boycotted the referendum in March, claiming the president would use the new constitution to hold office for an additional two terms, despite currently serving his second and final term as president. The United States, the European Union and France questioned the legitimacy of the March referendum, according to News24


April 7 Brisbane, Australia: The High Court of Australia overturned Cardinal George Pell’s sexual assault conviction in an unanimous decision on April 7. Pell was sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of five charges in December 2018 regarding an alleged sexual assault of two 13-year-old boys in 1996. The High Court cited “compounding improbabilities” and determined there was a “significant possibility that an innocent person [had] been convicted” in Pell’s case. “I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice,” Pell stated following his release, according to The New York Times. “This has been remedied today with the High Court’s unanimous decision.”


April 8 Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The Personal Status Court in Dubai suspended all personal legal services relating to family matters, including marriage and divorces, “until further notice” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With over 2,600 confirmed cases and 12 deaths in Dubai thus far, authorities have also put a 24-hour curfew in place while banning all social gatherings and any non-essential business. According to The Middle East Eye, officials made the decision to suspend legal services based on the rules of Islamic jurisprudence, which state “repelling an end is preferable to securing a benefit.”


April 11 Guerrero, Mexico: Victor Fernando Alvarez, a journalist who was reported missing on April 2, was found dead on April 11. He is the second journalist in 2020 to be murdered in Mexico, a country known to be dangerous for journalists. Maria Elena Ferral, another journalist, was found dead in March. Over 100 journalists have been killed since 2000, according to Al Jazeera. Human rights organizations in Guerrero called on authorities to investigate Alvarez’s case despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 


April 12 London, United Kingdom: Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from the hospital where he had been receiving treatment for COVID-19 since April 5. Johnson was in an intensive care unit from April 6–9, before returning to the general ward and eventually being released from the hospital several days later. While the prime minister recovers, the U.K. government is being run by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who could remain in charge for up to a month. In a video statement posted on Twitter, Johnson commended the “personal courage, not just of the doctors and nurses, but of everyone: the cleaners, the cooks, the healthcare workers of every description.” 


April 10–12 Democratic Republic of the Congo: A 26-year-old electrician and an 11-month-old girl died after being diagnosed with Ebola at the same hospital two days before the World Health Organization was set to give an official statement to end the Ebola outbreak on April 12. The two cases came after nearly seven weeks of no new cases in the country, which has been fighting the world’s second-worst Ebola outbreak since August 2018. WHO reassured the public flare-ups near the end of an outbreak are relatively common, but it does not mean the virus will spread out of control again.