CHRI Human Rights Update
Your round up from CHRI on 21/03/2016
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Today’s top news:
The Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Lesotho, Dr Rajen Prasad, has encouraged the country’s coalition government to move ahead with a range of political and legislative reforms, following an official visit.
Mail & Guardian
London-based publication New African Woman has put out its first list of Africa’s top female game-changers. Themed “changing the game”, gender equity, women empowerment and entrepreneurship were some of the key issues its picks spotlighted at the award ceremony.
The New African Woman Forum drew some of the most influential women on the continent and concluded with a powerful message: Women’s empowerment is a human rights issue and it makes good business sense.
HelpAge International has welcomed the adoption of a protocol on older people’s rights at the 26th Summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Huffington Post Blog
One of the aspects of the fight for gender equality in Africa that has been particularly frustrating for women activists is that much of this inequality is the continuing legacy of colonialism, which has altered the empowered role that African women once had in traditional African societies.
It was a human rights victory when the Court of Appeal (CoA) set aside the refusal by the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs to register an organisation for homosexuals and sexual minority groups (LEGABIBO) last week.
Times Live/ New Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe has failed to persuade neighbouring Botswana to stop caning Zimbabwean offenders, the state-owned Herald newspaper says.
Members of the Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA) express indignation at the incident on 12th March at the Laquintine Hospital, outside which a pregnant woman died because she had no money to pay for treatment as relatives tried to in vain to deliver twins alive.
Ghana Business News
Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, commended the UNFPA and UNICEF Joint Global Progamme to accelerate actions to end child marriage at the launch in New York on the sidelines of the 60th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60).
Ghana Business News
Ghana has outlined a holistic national strategy to combat child, early and forced marriages, to make the practice a high risk marital engagement, and called for collaboration with other African countries.
Girls’ groups in the Adentan and La Nkwantenang-Madina Municipal Assemblies say child marriage can only be ended through a collective effort. Parents, religious and traditional leaders as well as children and the media all had a part to play in ending child marriage.
All Africa/ Daily Nation
The 2010 Constitution allows abortion when the life or health of a pregnant woman is at risk.
However, the government, through the Ministry of Health, has been put on the spot after it withdrew its “Standards and Guidelines for Reducing Morbidity and Mortality from Unsafe Abortion in Kenya”.
There are good grounds to believe that the next elections in August 2017 will be seriously flawed and could precipitate perhaps the worst chaos in the country’s electoral history — far worse than the mayhem of 2007 when, officially, 1133 people were killed and over 600,000 internally displaced.
An assessment of President Pakalitha Mosisili’s promise to protect the human rights of every person in Lesotho as enshrined in the constitution of 1993, after one year in office. (article requires registration)
In a letter to parishioners, Catholic bishops in Malawi have attacked the government for placing a moratorium on ‘harmful’ homosexual laws. The government paused prosecutions of gay people under anti-homosexual laws in December.
Malawi’s bishops on Sunday released a pastoral statement on the Year of Mercy, Catholic social teaching, and its relevance for their country, reaffirming their stance against abortion amidst what they perceive as a ‘pro-abortion push’ in the country.
During his address at the 51st independence celebrations, President Peter Mutharika promised his administration would reduce the concentration of power in the presidency and aim to eliminate illiteracy by 2019, amongst others.
“Before our very eyes, the sanctity of Nigeria being a federal republic is being challenged by the flourishing of yet another republic: the Republic of Fulani Herdsmen.”
Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai on Friday warned troops against violating human rights during operations in and outside the country.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that Nigerian Army troops who took part in the execution of more than 640 following a Boko Haram-led jail-break near Maiduguri in March 2014 are arrested and brought to trial.
The male-dominated Senate (102 men to 7 women) rejected the Bill on gender and equal opportunities proposed by Senator Biodun Olujimi on March 15. This is the third time that the Senate will throw out this same bill.
All Africa/ Daily Trust
Participants at a Senate public hearing on the “Frivolous petition Bill 2015 (SB. 143)” also known as anti-social media bill expressed concern on the draft law.
THE Network of People Living With HIV and AIDS in Nigeria, NEPWHAN, yesterday, commenced sensitisation of Nigerians on the Anti-discrimination Act 2014, on stigmatisation of people living with HIV.
Voice of America
As Nigeria vows to stifle unrest during this weekend’s election, some voters say they remain too scared to cast ballots. Both main political parties have accused each other of inciting violence.
This Day Live
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the results of nine state constituencies and one federal constituency in which rerun elections were held in Nigeria’s oil hub, Rivers State, on Saturday, but the commission was forced to suspend the electoral process in all other constituencies in the state where results were not announced due to the widespread violence that marred the elections.
A Rwandan who allegedly helped to orchestrate the 1990s genocide was sent back to his country on Sunday to be tried by a United Nations tribunal. Ladislas Ntaganzwa was arrested in December in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has been accused of responsibility for the killing of an estimated 20,000 people.
Sierra Leonian courts have started to release a group of community activists from the Malen Land Owners and Users Association (MALOA) who were jailed for taking part in a 2013 protest at a palm oil plantation operated by Societe Financiere des Caoutchoucs (Socfin).
56-years ago police opened fire on thousands of unarmed anti-pass protesters in Sharpeville, south of Johannesburg, killing 69 and injuring 180. The day was a turning point in the fight against apartheid as it created a crisis for the government.
Institute for Security Studies
Today, South Africa celebrates Human Rights Day, commemorating the 1960 shooting of police upon peaceful protestors. Reflecting on the role of police in relation to human rights seems more relevant than ever given that the African Union (AU) dedicated 2016 to human rights, with a specific focus on the rights of women.
Human Rights Day is being celebrated around the country, but it’s little consolation for the disabled community. Disabled South Africans are still fighting a tough battle for their rights to be recognised.
To criminalise racism or not? That’s one of the questions the Anti-Racism Week hoped to address. A panel discussion led by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela realised it’s not that simple.
Friday’s unlawful detention of a respected magazine editor and human rights lawyer for their criticism of the judiciary in Swaziland is another shocking example of the southern African kingdom’s intolerance of freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.
The World Post
Maseko and magazine editor Bheki Makhubu were arrested a year ago and sentenced to two years in jail for their presumption to question royal authority. The latest US human rights report describes Swaziland as “an absolute monarchy”.
The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) and the Elders Forum of Uganda have expressed concern over the post-election violence going on around the country.
Female members of the legal fraternity in Uganda have expressed concern over their lack of interest in matters of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR). According to the African Union Commission, the current gender representation at the AfCHPR is very low with just two female judges.
Capital FM/ Standard Media
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) wants the Tanzanian local courts to expedite the trial of five Kenyans facing murder and armed robbery charges after ruling that their fundamental rights have been violated.
All Africa/ East African Business Week
The promotion of the highest ethical standards in a company’s business dealings across the East African Community (EAC) has been formalised. The new East African Business Council (EABC) Code of Conduct is intended to bring a sense of order by enhancing ethical business practices.
All Africa/ Tanzania Daily News
Police in Dar es Salaam are investigating the kidnapping of a Zanzibar-based journalist with Mwananchi Communications Limited, Salma Said, who disappeared after being taken by strangers on Saturday in the city.
A resolution was adopted recently in Parliament to create a Constitutional Assembly to adopt a new Constitution to further strengthen democratic rights, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said at the 134th Assembly of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Lusaka.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), once known as Canada Customs, has become a quasi-police organization. It locks up thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers every year; two migrants have died in government detention.
Canada’s largest airline has been called to the Human Rights Tribunal after accusations of discrimination ‘on grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, or his Muslim religion by denying him service’.
Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom may be taken away as the new government does not see it as the best way to promote and protect freedom of religion in the country, however, the fate of the Office still remains unclear.
Racism in Canada is often a topic which is overlooked and which is said not to be a problem in the same degree as it is in the neighbouring country of USA. However, this is not entirely true and racism and racial discrimination are both big problems that need to be faced and discussed.
A seismic testing case in Canada will prove to be a test for the courts on indigenous rights in the country which has had a poor record on promoting and protecting such rights.
Pakistan Today/ Dawn
In a legal workshop organised by Pakistan’s leading legal think-tank, Research Society of International Law (RSIL), in Karachi, it was concluded that the Bangladesh war crimes trials violate various provisions of international human rights treaties.
Incidents of child murders are rising alarmingly in Bangladesh, with some of the most recent ones allegedly perpetrated by victims’ mothers. Human rights experts say a culture of impunity is indirectly encouraging the perpetrators to target children.
Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen has batted for adopting a uniform civil code based on equality, asserting that it was imperative to do away with religious laws in order to achieve gender parity.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reaffirmed Bangladesh’s firm commitment to combat all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in a message on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination yesterday.
Dhaka Tribune/ Daily Star
The 3rd National Indigenous Women Conference started Saturday with an aim to establishing the rights of the indigenous women across the country. The two-day programme was organised by Bangladesh Indigenous Women Network (BIWN) and Kapaeeng Foundation, a human rights organisation for indigenous people.
The attacks on members of Bangladesh’s civil society illustrate how the authorities are seeking to avenge perceived “past misdeeds,” and take any action required to remove or weaken alternative power bases in the country.
As per the Constitution of the Republic and Bangladesh’s obligation under international treaties, protection of the law and the right to seek legal redress are guaranteed for all Rohingya refugees including UMNs. But accessing this right is proving difficult.
This is the first in a four-part series on cases of Dalit atrocities in India which were brought up during a tribunal held by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights in collaboration with other liked-minded associations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the BR Ambedkar National Memorial in New Delhi and said that Ambedkar was to Indians what Martin Luther King Jr was to the world.
International Business Times
A number of British Lords have criticised India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi for supporting Hindu extremism. The concerns were raised in UK parliament during a debate about declining religious freedom in India under the Modi government organised by Lord Singh of Wimbledon on 17 March.
Despite wide recognition of the link between poverty and landlessness in India, and a slew of policies over the years aimed at helping the people secure housing, more than half of rural Indians do not have a permanent homestead.
Given the recent attacks on Christian communities, it is urgent to ensure the safety of the faithful during the Holy Week celebrations: This is the cry for help that is being addressed to the National Commission for Human Rights (NHRC) by Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).
Free Malaysia Today
Expert on social democracy dismisses Malaysia’s arguments for not signing the UN Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. It is the peoples’ obligation to push their governments to recognise universally acknowledged rights, says renowned authority on social democracy Thomas Meyer.
Malay Mail Online
The “trend” of racialising criminality indicates increasing racial discrimination in Malaysia, a human rights group said today.
Malay Mail Online
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) today revived calls on the federal government to introduce fresh legislation outlawing hate speech and discrimination, saying the laws were necessary to end racism here.
East Asia Forum
Recently, two acts — the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA Act) and the Sedition Act — have been used repeatedly to contain the zeal with which Malaysians have taken to the internet.
Police vowed Sunday legal action against any officer found to have carried out any act of brutality during the raids on houses linked to gangs on Friday.
Implementing death penalty will only bring stability and harmony to the Maldives, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom said Saturday at the closing ceremony of the third symposium on training campaign leaders for his re-election.
Times of Israel
In Pakistan, women are often too fearful to report sexual violence, yet the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded 423 rapes and 304 gang rapes last year. It also said that last year at least one woman a day was killed in the name of honour.
It is society’s duty to help women juggle their various responsibilities, and employers must ensure that human resource policies and practices do not work against women, said Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung.
The National Police Commission (NPC) has so far received 752 complaints against the police from October 21, 2015 to date.
Sri Lanka Guardian
While it is essential to strengthen fundamental rights in the proposed fundamental rights Chapter in the Constitution, it is also necessary to retain ‘Fundamental Duties’ as enshrined in the Article 28 of the present Constitution.
The assassinations of four Sri Lankan parliamentarians and the attempted assassination of another MP have been discussed at a meeting of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians during its 134th Assembly in Lusaka, Zimbabwe on Friday.
Justice Jacqueline Cornelius, a High Court Judge in Barbados has expressed concern about the massive delays in the sexual harassment legislation that has been worked on during the last 15 years.
Guatemala decided to violate Belizean sovereignty by taking control over an island in Belize’s territory and told Belize ‘that the only way Belize can regain our rights at the Sarstoon is if the International Court of Justice (ICJ) gives it to us’.
A Jamaican worker who almost fatally injured himself as he was away working in the London-area in Canada and covered by WSIB did not receive the promised support and treatment he needed and has now gone to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario with his case.
Access to justice is an important thing, and when justice is served it is truly a good thing done, however, poor people are less able to access this justice and go through the proceedings of their own cases, mainly because of economic reasons, how can that be changed this reader asks.
St Kitts and Nevis
Kaye Bass, the Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke about the intentions of St Kitts and Nevis during the 31st normal session of the UNHRC where she said that ‘St. Kitts and Nevis recognized the importance of ratifying international human rights instruments’.
A migrant support group KISA, has called on the Cypriot government to change its migration policies which according to the group ‘only promotes institutional prejudice and racism’.
The Cyprus Church has come out with a statement that it will oppose the proposed abortion bill in Cyprus as the church ‘considers abortion to be murder’ and says that the bill ‘trivialises human life’.
George Vella the Minister of Foreign Affairs has spoken against gay marriage which he sees ‘is between a man and a woman’, however, he is a proponent of civil unions as he feels the LGBTI community ‘deserve the same rights as everybody else’.
Diego Garcia, a small island in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) and home to one of America’s most important military bases, was confiscated in 1966 from the local population of Chagossians, resulting in the forced displacement of more than 2,000.
Bedfordshire on Sunday
Last year Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre burst into headline news after Channel 4 released footage of guards’ aggressive behaviour. The paper tells former inmates’ stories, starting with Mabel Gawanas, who first arrived in Yarl’s Wood in May 2014.
Hundreds of refugee women in Scotland are facing “inhumane and unacceptable” exploitation, including being forced into prostitution and domestic servitude, leaving them despairing and suicidal.
Middle East Monitor
An estimated 15,000 people marched through central London on Saturday during a ‘Refugees Welcome/Stand Up To Racism’ demonstration that was implemented to coincide with the United Nations’ ‘Anti-Racism Day’ which is to be commemorated on Monday.
The government of the United Kingdom are funding the Ethiopian government, a government which is currently holding a UK activist on death row in the country, this has been found out after using the FOI legislation in place in Britain.
A game that promotes the killing of Aboriginal Australians has been taken to the Australian Human Rights Commission and with it goes Facebook, Google and Apple.
Sydney Morning Herald
The Australian government has come out to say at the UNHRC in Geneva that the UN monitoring of human rights in Myanmar should be downgraded, this comes as rights groups in Myanmar are alleging the government of committing several serious human rights abuses.
The Maritime Executive
Harmony Day, celebrated this year on Monday the 21st, a day which is supposed to celebrate cultural, religious and linguistic diversity is being clouded by the migration issue and the off shore detention camps that Australia is using to deal with migrants.
The debate on same-sex marriage and on Safe Schools are getting out of hand, and even though most people agree that same-sex marriage will be voted through, the debate continues.
Several hundred refugees that had been brought to Australia for medical treatment are now bound to be sent back to Nauru, however, there have been major protests against this plan.
The Commission of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination will have a very important role to play for a Fiji ‘built on the principles of dignity, equality and freedom’, according to the newly appointed head Ashwin Raj.
The UN is calling on Fiji to open up and accept all of the UN Convention Against Torture and for it not to change or reject certain articles within the convention.
The screening campaign that leads to the abortion of a large majority of children with Down Syndrome is a violation against human rights and the government should not stand for it, according to this article.
Today is Race Relations Day, however, the Human Rights Commission is saying that today should not be the only day in which race relations are spoken about ‘ it’s always a good time to have courageous conversations’ says commissioner Dame Devoy.
Otago Daily Times
Homophobia is very present and existent in youth sports in New Zealand. According to this piece of research ‘71% of New Zealanders think youth team sports are unwelcoming and unsafe for LGB people’.
Women who were forced to give up their children to adoption by the government during the baby boom years have called out for an apology from the government and for a change in adoption legislation.
The Secretary General, High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the president for the General Assembly all joined forces in New York to speak up against rising racism and xenophobia in the world and called for ‘unity to ensure dignity, justice and development for all’.
In Depth News
The President of the UN General Assembly as well as the UN Secretary General have both expressed support for the new UN chief to be female, this to match the goals of gender equality by 2030 in action as well as in words.
New York Times
Anthony Banbury was a United Nations assistant secretary general for field support and explains his decision to leave his position after working for the UN for most of the last three decades.
Intellectual Property Watch
Public health advocates, academics, patients, governments and others this week presented further ideas to the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines on ways to break the longstanding pattern of expensive medical products around the world as a way to pay for research and development.
The sixtieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) resumed its general discussion Saturday with speakers emphasizing the need to tackle deep-rooted gender stereotypes and close the gender pay gap while keeping women’s empowerment at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Human Rights Council Friday afternoon held a debate on the state of racial discrimination worldwide, with a focus on challenges and achievements of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action 15 years after.
For all that has changed in war and conflict, there is one thing that remains stubbornly the same — the targeted destruction of women through rape and sex slavery.