New Zealand authorities collect a total of 224 semi-automatic weapons and over 200 gun parts during Christchurch’s buyback events on July 13. Courtesy of New Zealand Police

This Week Around the World – July 7–13

July 7 Frankfurt, Germany: 16,500 people were evacuated from the Ostend area of downtown Frankfurt in order to allow German authorities to defuse and dispose of an American bomb discovered during construction near the European Central Bank in June. The 1,100-pound, World War II-era bomb took approximately two hours to defuse, according to Haaretz. Despite locating the active bomb in June 2019, authorities waited to defuse it to minimize disruption and allow for proper preparation. The Washington Post reported it is not uncommon for active World War II bombs to be found in Germany, even though it has been more than 70 years since the end of the war. 

July 8 Hague, The Netherlands: The International Crime Court found “Congolese Terminator” Bosco Ntaganda guilty of 13 war crimes and five crimes against humanity including murder, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers in warfare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on July 8. Ntaganda is the fourth person to be convicted by the ICC since its creation in 2002 and the first to be convicted of sexual slavery. No sentence has been determined yet, but Ntaganda could face life in prison. He maintained he was innocent throughout the trial, and his lawyers claim he was actually a victim as well since he was once a child soldier in Rwanda. A total of 2,123 of Ntaganda’s victims, including many child soldiers, were consulted by the ICC when collecting evidence for the trial. “While Ntaganda’s conviction is a milestone…and a victory for all those who pursued justice for crimes committed in Ituri, several suspected criminals still enjoy impunity,” the International Federation for Human Rights told BBC. 

July 11 Santiago, Chile: A bill originally proposed in 2010 was signed into law by Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, which will eliminate the statute of limitations on crimes of rape, sexual abuse, production of pornographic material and prostitution involving children and adolescents. “Beginning today, the passing of time will never more be an accomplice to those who abuse our children, not an ally of impunity,” Piñera said upon signing the bill, according to Reuters. The recent increase in accusations of sexual abuse against the Catholic Church was a main factor in the passing of the non-retroactive law. According to the Catholic News Agency, 22,540 complaints of sexual abuse involving minors were filed during 2017, and the Chilean Public Ministry is currently investigating over 150 cases of sexual abuse linked to the church. 

July 12 Ankara, Turkey: Despite warnings from the United States, parts for the Russian S-400 missile defense system arrived in Turkey on July 12. The U.S. has repeatedly told Turkish officials they do not support the country’s acquisition of the defense system and has threatened to place sanctions against Turkey. The U.S. has also said they will not sell Turkey F-35 fighter jets if they purchased the S-400 from Russia, as there are fears the possession of both systems will allow Russia to discover vulnerabilities in the U.S. fighter jet, according to BBC. Both the U.S. and Turkey are members of NATO, but other representatives of the international organization have also expressed concern over Turkey’s recent purchase. “It is up to the allies to decide what military equipment they buy,” a NATO official told CNN. “However, we are concerned about the potential consequences of Turkey’s decision to acquire the S-400 system.” Despite international concern  over the possibility of sanctions from the U.S., Turkey has reported the deliveries from Russia will continue, and several Turkish S-400 operators will travel to Russia in July and August to receive proper training. 

July 13 Christchurch, New Zealand: The first of over 250 gun buyback events around the country took place in Christchurch, where authorities paid 169 gun owners over 430,000 New Zealand dollars—the equivalent of $287,670 USD—in exchange for their now illegal semi-automatic weapons and gun parts. The buyback events are a part of recent legislation banning most automatic and semi-automatic weapons following the Christchurch mosque shootings that occurred in March. According to NPR, 224 semi-automatic weapons were collected as well as over 200 gun parts on July 13. New Zealand gun owners have until December 2019 to hand their illegal firearms over to authorities, according to AP News. “Many of those who handed over firearms commented on how easy the process is, how the prices are fair and how police made the whole event go smoothly,” Police Minister Stuart Nash told AP News