Possible Unrest in Catalonia Amidst Amnesty Controversy

Political Tensions in Catalonia: Amnesty Decisions Spark Criticism

Intelligence cut off: 13:00 GMT 2nd of July 2024

On July 2nd, the Barcelona Provincial Court granted amnesty to 46 national police officers who faced charges stemming from their role in quelling protests during the October 1st, 2017 Catalonian independence referendum. This decision contrasts sharply with the Supreme Court’s ruling the day before, July 1st, which denied amnesty to former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and several other independence leaders. The Supreme Court justified its decision by arguing that the crimes these leaders are accused of, primarily embezzlement of public and European funds to support the independence movement, are not covered under the amnesty law.

Both cases fall under the recently approved and controversial amnesty law, passed by the Spanish Congress in late May and sponsored by Socialist Party leader and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. This law potentially grants amnesty to around 500 individuals involved in the 2017 protests, with exceptions for extreme cases. However, the Barcelona court’s decision to grant amnesty to police officers accused of severe actions like torture or inhuman treatment is seen as lenient and has sparked criticism.

The disparities between amnesty granted to police officers and denied to Catalan leaders are likely to provoke public unrest in Catalonia. The Supreme Court’s decision is viewed by many as politically motivated, especially given past protests following the sentencing of nine independence leaders in 2019, which resulted in widespread disruptions and clashes in major Catalan cities.

Following these developments, there are concerns about renewed civil unrest in Catalonia. Travellers should stay updated with local media for any announcements of protests or demonstrations in the region and exercise caution accordingly.


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    Alert Plus: Violence Erupts in Nairobi, Kenya

    Violence Erupts in Nairobi. Parliament and Government Buildings Targeted

    Intelligence cut off: 16:00 GMT 25th of June 2024

    On June 25th, Nairobi was engulfed in violence as protesters stormed the Parliament of Kenya, setting the building ablaze. The city, along with urban centres like Mombasa, Nyeri, and Eldoret, became scenes of serious clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Central transportation in Nairobi was brought to a standstill by makeshift barricades and burning tires, exacerbating the tense atmosphere.

    As of 16:15 GMT, official reports confirm at least five fatalities, with 13 serious injuries and 11 minor injuries recorded. However, these figures are believed to understate the true extent of casualties, with unverified accounts suggesting a rapid rise in injuries and fatalities amidst the ongoing unrest.

    The protests have primarily targeted government and police facilities. In addition to the Parliament building, protesters set ablaze the Office of the Governor in Nairobi and stormed several police stations. Similar incidents occurred in Eldoret, where the county court faced destruction. There’s also been looting reported at MPs’ clubs and supermarkets in Nairobi and Nyeri, indicative of broader public discontent.

    The protests were triggered by a controversial tax bill championed by President William Ruto’s government. This legislation increases taxes on essential items such as bread and motor vehicles, part of broader fiscal measures aimed at addressing Kenya’s substantial $80 billion debt and promoting the country as a stable, modern African nation. However, the tax hikes have exacerbated economic hardship for many in a nation where millions live below the international poverty line, igniting widespread anger and unrest.

    Kenya’s Government’s Response to the Protests?

    What began as peaceful demonstrations on June 18th quickly escalated following heavy-handed police tactics, including the early use of tear gas and mass detentions. By early afternoon, over 200 protesters had been apprehended, marking a critical turning point as crowds gathered outside Nairobi’s central police station demanding the release of detainees.

    The government’s response has included shutting down local internet services and using live ammunition against protesters, indicating a hardened stance that could prolong the unrest. The resulting casualties are expected to strain Kenya’s already stretched healthcare infrastructure, potentially necessitating increased support from international NGOs and humanitarian organisations.

    How might the unrest impact Kenya’s economy and security?

    Beyond immediate humanitarian concerns, the unrest poses significant implications for Kenya’s economy and security. The disruption of infrastructure and government functions in Nairobi and other affected areas could have direct economic repercussions, affecting businesses and travel across the country. Moreover, the government’s aggressive crowd control tactics and apparent failures to safeguard public assets raise concerns about further escalation and the potential need for military intervention, which could complicate the operating environment for foreign humanitarian organisations.

    As the situation unfolds, the damage to infrastructure and ongoing disruptions to daily life underscore the precariousness of Kenya’s current state, with implications that extend far beyond its borders.

    Travel Risk Advice: Kenya

    • Avoid all non-essential travel to Kenya, particularly Nairobi and Mombasa. 
    • Avoid the central business district in Nairobi, particularly Kenyatta Avenue, Haile Selassie Avenue, City Hall Way and any other wide roads conducive to the staging of protests, as well as all major government buildings such as the Kenyan Parliament or the Governor’s Office. 
    • Closely monitor announcements from local authorities and media sources for any developments that may severely impact the local security environment.
    • Avoid all areas of unrest due to incidental risks to bystanders. If caught in the unrest, travellers should move with the crowd until they find the nearest opportunity to escape. If in a vehicle, look to turn down the nearest road. If driving away is not an option, lock the vehicle and escape on foot. 
    • Always follow all instructions and orders from security forces. Where possible, avoid areas of active unrest and remain in a secure accommodation. 
    • Prolonged civil unrest can disrupt travel, especially if protesters begin targeting airports. Travellers should have contingency measures in place, including evacuation plans and reliable access to food, water and medication. 
    • Have emergency contact numbers saved on your phone. These should include the local authorities, medical facilities and any consular support. Ensure that mobile phones are charged in case of any losses in electricity. 
    • If caught in the vicinity of a security incident, seek shelter immediately and leave the area if safe to do so. Continue to adhere to all instructions issued by authorities and obey any security cordons in place. 
    • The overall security situation in Kenya, including Nairobi, is likely to remain severe in the coming days. 
    • Monitor the Solace Secure platform and trusted local media for relevant updates.


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      LGBTQ+ Travel Risks 2024

      While many Western countries embrace LGBTQ+ inclusivity, several destinations still uphold conservative or heteronormative values, posing increased risks for LGBTQ+ travelers.

      Our report sheds light on these challenges, advocating for comprehensive corporate travel policies that prioritise safety regardless of destination culture. It’s designed to assist LGBTQ+ individuals and corporate risk managers in understanding and mitigating these risks effectively.

      Explore our comprehensive guide to navigating LGBTQ+ travel challenges and discover essential strategies for ensuring safe and inclusive business trips. For a deeper dive into this topic, additional resources are provided at the end of the report.


      In 2024, LGBTQ+ rights face a dynamic landscape shaped by shifting politics, religious perspectives, and socio-cultural norms. Navigating this environment demands a nuanced approach to advocacy and policy-making that embraces complexity and diversity.

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        Slovak Leader Fico Survives Assassination Attempt

        Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in a serious but stable condition following a suspected assassination attempt. The attack occurred on May 15 in the small town of Handlova, where Fico was meeting supporters outside a cultural centre. He was shot multiple times and immediately rushed to F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital in Banska Bystrica. After undergoing a five-hour surgery, he is currently in intensive care.

        The alleged suspect, a 71-year-old writer and political activist, was detained at the scene. Authorities are investigating the motive behind the attack, which is widely believed to be politically motivated.

        Fico, who secured office in October 2023 after a divisive campaign, has been a polarising figure. He is one of the few European leaders advocating for closer ties with Russia and has called for an end to the EU’s military support for Ukraine. Under his leadership, Slovakia has halted all arms deliveries to Kyiv.

        Fico’s government has made controversial moves, including a proposal to abolish the country’s public broadcaster and weaken anti-corruption laws. These actions have sparked fears about media independence and democracy in Slovakia, leading to widespread protests. Some believe these tensions contributed to the assassination attempt, with Fico’s ruling SMER party blaming false narratives from the opposition.

        The attack on Prime Minister Fico is expected to lead to heightened security measures across Slovakia. In the long term, this incident might be used to justify suppressing dissent and pushing through more contentious government proposals. Additionally, Russian-affiliated social media accounts have been spreading information suggesting Ukrainian or NATO involvement, with some posts inciting violence against European officials.

        Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has hinted that the attack could be linked to Fico’s stance on Russia. While the risk of terrorism in Slovakia remains low, there is a realistic possibility of targeted violence and harassment against pro-EU Slovakian officials in the coming weeks.

        READ MORE

        2024 Intelligence Forecast: The Populist Wave and Polarisation in Europe in 2024

        The rise of both far-right and far-left political parties in Europe in recent years has significantly complicated and energised the political landscape in the continent. This trend is expected to persist into 2024.

        Nakba Day 2024

        Anticipated Disruption Across North Africa, Europe and North America

        Intelligence cut off time 10:00 GMT 14th of May 2024

        This Wednesday, May 15, commemorates the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, an Arabic term meaning “catastrophe.” It signifies the expulsion and forced displacement of around 750,000 Palestinian Arabs during the 1947-1949 Palestine War, following the adoption of the UN’s Partition Plan for Palestine, which ended British mandate rule over the territory. This event is profoundly significant historically, marking the onset of the Palestinian diaspora and a pivotal moment in the formation of Palestinian national identity, which persists nearly a century later.

        This year, the significance of the commemoration will be amplified due to the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip. The conflict has reached a critical juncture, especially with the recent deployment of Israeli troops into Rafah on May 6th. The conflict, which followed a surprise attack launched by the Gaza Strip-based Hamas terror group on 7 October, and resulted in the killing of approximately 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, has entered its seventh month. During this time, over 35,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have lost their lives, and nearly two million have been displaced internally. Gaza is grappling with severe famine, a near-total collapse of infrastructure, and extensive destruction of local housing.

        This year’s Nakba Day is expected to spark extensive protests and disruptions, especially in North Africa, Europe, and North America. While some events may be sanctioned by authorities or even state-sponsored, there’s a significant risk of clashes with security forces. In regions with substantial pro-Israel support, tensions may escalate between pro-Palestine demonstrators and counter-protesters, potentially leading to property damage targeting individuals associated with either side.

        Universities are expected to be significant focal points for civil unrest. Across the globe, student occupations and protests authority have occurred in various academic institutions, notably in France, the United States, and the Netherlands. In Tel Aviv, authorities recently prohibited a planned Nakba commemoration event, potentially triggering anti-government demonstrations and clashes in the city. Student movements, while typically localised, can disrupt city centres in major urban areas.

        The risk of terrorism, particularly from self-radicalised individuals or “lone wolves,” presents a significant threat, especially in densely populated urban areas. These lone actors may target large gatherings or individuals and locations with simple weapons like knives or occasionally light firearms. Vehicle attacks are also a possibility, although their effectiveness varies due to anti-vehicle barriers in many city centres.

        While organised terror group attacks are less common, they are not impossible. For instance, in Alexandria, Egypt, on May 7th, a Jewish businessman was killed by a group named ‘Vanguards of the Liberation – the Martyrs of Mohamed Salah’, linked to an incident involving an Egyptian police officer killing three Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers in 2023. Attacks by groups are often more sophisticated and may involve improvised explosive devices (IEDs), but they also have a higher chance of being thwarted by authorities compared to lone wolf attacks.

        Nakba Day-related disruptions are expected to primarily impact large urban centres in countries that have seen significant pro-Palestine protests. These disruptions are likely to concentrate around government or academic institutions, limiting their scope. Avoiding these areas unless necessary should mitigate physical risks.

        However, traffic disruptions, potentially affecting various modes of transportation, are less predictable and could have more widespread effects. While disruptions to airports and seaports are unlikely, protesters may attempt to block roads, particularly around targeted buildings and main traffic arteries leading into urban centres. Even brief disruptions could have lasting effects throughout the day.

        To minimise such risks, it’s recommended to schedule travel outside of rush hour and to plan entry into large cities prone to protests for early morning hours. If traveling through city centres is unavoidable, consider alternative routes away from likely protest areas and avoid public transportation.

        It’s crucial to stay informed through official channels regarding potential protests, disruptions, and violence. Familiarise yourself with local emergency contacts, including nearby police stations and emergency rooms. When planning business operations, establish clear communication procedures such as two-way messaging networks and GPS tracking to reduce risks to people and assets.

        Additionally, having failover systems and strategic redundancies in place can mitigate the impact of severe localised disruptions on primary business operations, although such scenarios are unlikely.

        Solace Global Risk is a leading provider of comprehensive risk management solutions, serving clients globally with a commitment to excellence. Our team of seasoned experts, empowers organisations to navigate complex risk landscapes with confidence and resilience.

        Journey Risk Management

        Your duty of care doesn’t end the moment your people set foot in their destination – and neither does ours.

        From transfers to ongoing security and emergency evacuations, our travel risk services always have you covered. 

        Arm yourself with the knowledge to avoid a potential threat from turning into a crisis. Intelligence advisories give you tailored reports to anticipate possible disruptions, mitigate risk and help you make well-informed decisions, faster.

        Give your people peace of mind when they travel for work, so they remain focused on the job at hand. We mitigate risks, manage incidents if they occur, and support your people with security advice or help in a crisis. 

        Speak to a risk management specialist

          Alert Plus: US and UK launch air strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen

          Current Situation of US and UK air strikes in Yemen

          Intelligence cut off time 15:00 GMT 12th of January 2024

          On the 11-12 January, US and UK aircraft and warships conducted at least 70 strikes on multiple military targets in Houthi-controlled Yemen. Reports indicate that over 100 precision guided munitions were fired on at least 16 Houthi locations. This includes a military base adjacent to Sanaa airport, a military site near Taiz airport, a Houthi naval base in Hodeidah and military sites in Hajjah governorate. Houthi’s stated that five of the group’s fighters were killed in the strikes with six others wounded.

          The US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, released a statement indicating that targeted strikes were conducted on sites associated with unmanned aerial vehicle’s (UAV), ballistic and cruise missiles, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities.

          Majority of the firepower came from US jets, with the US having the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower already in the Red Sea, as well as air bases in the region. US Navy warships also fired Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles (LACMs), which are GPS-guided and can be programmed to fly evasively. The UK contributed by sending four RAF Typhoons from Akrotiri, Cyprus, carrying Paveway IV guided bombs.

          Map of US and UK Air Strikes against Houthi's in Yemen January 2024
          Map of US and UK Air Strikes against Houthi’s in Yemen

          In response, the Houthis have stated that they are not deterred by the attacks. The group’s leader, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, stated that the US and UK would “soon realise” the action was “the greatest folly in their history”. Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad responded by saying that the strikes show Washington and London’s support for Tel Aviv and that the West are now responsible for the subsequent impact on the region’s security. Iran also responded forcefully, expressing that the strikes were a breach of international laws. Saudi Arabia and Jordan did not condemn the attacks but did call for restraint. Several Western nations supported the operation as an attempt to restore the free flow of trade and deter further Houthi attacks.

          Who is Behind The Houthi Movement?

          The Houthi Movement is an Iranian aligned group that controls much of Yemen after nearly a decade of civil war against a Western-backed and Saudi-led coalition. The two sides are currently observing a tentative ceasefire that officially ended in late 2022 but has remained in place to the current day.

          Following the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel conflict, the Houthi’s emerged as a strong supporter of the Palestinian Islamist group. The Houthis began attacks on shipping between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea in December 2023, claiming to target vessels linked to Israeli persons, businesses, and interests.

          However, this route, which links Europe and Asia and Africa via the Suez Canal, accounts for roughly 15 percent of the world’s shipping traffic. The attacks have forced some shipping companies to limit transits through the waterway, or even cease operations altogether, instead taking the longer route around southern Africa. This has significantly disrupted international commerce, increasing delivery costs and time, stoking fears about a global inflation.

          In response to the Houthi attacks, the US launched Operation Prosperity Guardian alongside several allies, which aimed to end the blockade and counter all threats by Houthi forces against international maritime trade. The operation was defensive in nature, destroying only missiles launched at vessels with no pro-active strikes conducted. The Houthis continued to fire at merchant vessels, as well as allied naval vessels, dismissing warnings from Washington and London. Then on 9 January, US and British warships shot down 21 drones and missiles, repelling the largest Houthi attack so far.

          How will UK and US airstrikes in Yemen affect global stability?

          It is highly likely that the Houthi’s largest attack to date on 9 January was the trigger that surpassed the US-UK threshold. While international prices have yet to see a significant impact, Operation Prosperity Guardian was not working as a deterrent. It is highly likely that more extensive, continued Houthi action would force more merchant vessels away from the Red Sea, almost certainly disrupting maritime trade, therefore increasing consumer prices and shortages.

          In the immediate aftermath, the Houthi’s are highly likely to increase their attacks on commercial and military vessels in the region in retaliation. However, it is likely that their ability to launch missiles and drones has been degraded. Should the Houthis sustain their attacks, it is almost certain that the US and UK will continue their strikes on targets within Yemen. It is also highly likely that the group will be re-designated as a terrorist organisation if they continue. This would have a significant impact on the peace process to end the Yemeni Civil War between the Houthi’s and the Saudi-led coalition, which has continued to progress despite regional tensions.

          A breakdown of the process would almost certainly see a resumption of hostilities between the two sides, with locations within Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates likely becoming viable targets for the Houthi’s as evidenced by their previous attacks.

          Across the Middle East, it is highly likely that Houthi’s allies and other Iranian proxies start to act in solidarity with the group. These groups will almost certainly view the attacks as Western support for Israel.

          It is almost certain that Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) in Iraq and Syria will continue to target US military bases across the region. It is also likely that the frequency and scale of these attacks will increase considerably. There is a realistic possibility that US military locations that have not been targeted yet in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, are targeted.

          Hezbollah will likely continue to focus its attacks on Israel, however an attack on the US cannot be ruled out. While still unlikely, the US and UK strikes on Yemen have increased the likelihood of a wider conflict developing in the Middle East, as well as the West entering a proxy war with Iran. This eventuality would highly likely take focus away from the conflict in Gaza, almost certainly intensifying the humanitarian situation.

          Travel Risk Advice

          • Avoid all non-essential travel to Yemen.
          • Anyone operating in the region should monitor events from a reliable source in case of a major escalation.
          • Key military and political infrastructure inside Sana’a are very likely to remain focal points for violence and demonstrations. You should be particularly vigilant in these areas and follow any specific advice from the local security authorities.
          • Avoid US and UK embassies or consulates across the region as these will likely be the epicentres for demonstrations.
          • If air-raid or rocket warning sirens are sounded, seek secure shelter immediately, ideally in a purpose-built shelter. If in a building when sirens are sounded, head to a secure room, stairwell or inner room. Close all windows and doors, stay in shelter for ten minutes after the siren ends.
          • If hostilities resume between the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition, key civilian and military installations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE will likely become targets. Avoid these locations if not essential.
          • Previous Houthi attacks have targeted major airports. Ensure alternative travel plans have been prepared for, as well as all individuals having comprehensive travel insurance.
          • Mariners in the region should proceed with extreme caution, maintaining contact with port and shipping authorities at all times.
          • Always follow all instructions and orders from security forces. ​Where possible, avoid areas of active conflict and remain inside a secure location away from windows.
          • Ensure that you always carry personal identification documents. Consider making photocopies of important documents in case of confiscation, theft or loss.Keep these documents separated from the originals.​​
          • Have emergency contact numbers saved on your phone. These should include the local authorities, medical facilities and any consular support. Ensure that mobile phones are charged in case of any losses in electricity.
          • If caught in the vicinity of a security incident, seek shelter immediately and leave the area if safe to do so. Continue to adhere to all instructions issued by authorities and obey any security cordons in place. 
          • Monitor the Solace Secure platform and trusted local media for relevant updates.

          More on the recent activity in the region

          Houthi Attacks in the Red Sea

          Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the Houthi Movement has supported the Palestinian cause by targeting southern Israel directly and Israeli-linked vessels on shipping routes in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and the Bab-al-Mandeb.

          Houthi Seizure of Merchant Vessel Galaxy Leader

          In a brazen incident on 19 November, the Galaxy Leader, a Bahamian-flagged and Japanese-operated merchant vessel (IMO: 9237307), fell victim to suspected Houthi Movement militants in the Southern Red Sea.

          Israel-Hamas War 2023

          With the incursion into southern Israel by the Gaza-based militant group Hamas over the weekend of 7 and 8 October, this eventuality became a reality, and the region is now on the precipice of a protracted and deadly conflict.

          Speak to our team about your journey management needs