International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Besir OzbekFloriane Borel, and Anene Regassa

Each week students at the University of Essex Human Rights Centre prepare an overview of the past week’s human rights related news stories from around the world.

This week’s story in focus

On December 11, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.1318 – a bipartisan bill aimed at addressing the country’s persistently high rates of maternal mortality. The bill seeks to establish a program under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services that will distribute grants to states to fund efforts investigating the factors contributing to pregnancy-related deaths and ultimately develop more effective strategies to reduce maternal mortality rates country-wide.

This bill is seen as a landmark victory for advocates across the country that have long been pushing for increased attention to be paid to the United States’ alarming rate of maternal deaths, which has been documented as the worst rate in the developed world. Indeed, contrary to trends observed in most other developed nations, maternal mortality in the U.S. has continued to rise between 1990 and 2015 and has been shown to disproportionately affect women of colour. These disparities have previously been condemned by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which highlighted the U.S.’ failure to adequately fulfil the right to health and access to health care for communities representing racial, ethnic and national minorities.


‘Fire-fighting approach’ to humanitarian aid ‘not sustainable’: Deputy UN chief – UN News

UN chief warns failure to tackle global warming ‘suicidal’ as climate talks stall in Poland – Independent

What was agreed at COP24 and why did it take so long? – The Guardian

UN members adopt global migration pact – Al Jazeera

Jailing Hundreds of Journalists Worldwide is the ‘New Normal,’ Group Finds – New York Times


South African artist arrested over sex painting – Leadership

Kenyan court convicts ex-police officer of murder in killing of detainee – Reuters

Gunmen kill dozens of Tuareg civilians in Mali violence – Al Jazeera

Civilians killed in twin attacks in Burkina Faso – Al Jazeera

‘Racist’ Gandhi statue removed from University of Ghana – BBC News

South Sudan: Execution spree targets even children and threatens nursing mothers – Amnesty International

South Sudan refugees sceptical of new peace deal– Al Jazeera


Stansted 15 activists vow to overcome ‘dark, dark day for the right to protest’ – The Guardian

France ‘yellow vest’ protesters defy government to gather – BBC News

Brussels protests: Police use tear gas on anti-immigration demonstrators – Independent

The French far right is hijacking the Strasbourg shooting to sow division – The Guardian

Hungary’s Latest Assault on the Judiciary – Human Rights Watch

Comedians asked to sign ‘behavioural agreement’ for Soas gig – The Guardian

Latin America and the Caribbean

Argentina convicts ex-Ford executives for abuses during dictatorship – New York Times

Bolsonaro to abolish human rights ministry in favor of family values – The Guardian

El Mozote massacre: Waiting for justice nearly 40 years later – Al Jazeera

Anger grows after death of Guatemalan girl held in US – The Guardian


Qatar signs new UN partnerships at Doha Forum– Al Jazeera

UN humanitarian chief calls for immediate truce in Yemen– Al Jazeera

Vahid Sayadi Nasiri: Jailed Iran activist dies on hunger strike – BBC News

Iran: Top government officials distorted the truth about 1988 prison massacres – Amnesty International

Two Israelis killed amid spate of West Bank attacks – BBC News

Amnesty says ISIL ‘annihilation’ of rural Iraq is a war crime – Al Jazeera

Two babies die at IDP camp on Syria-Jordan border, UN says – Al Jazeera

UN panel urges Saudi Arabia to stop torture, free activists – Al Jazeera

Tunisian authorities must sustain progress on transitional justice – Amnesty International

North America

House passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates – The Hill

Religious leaders arrested at US border in pro-migration protest – The Guardian

Judges ask ICE to make courts off limits to immigration arrests – NPR News

Ruling Striking Down Obamacare Moves Health Debate to Center Stage – New York Times


Military urged to vet foreign forces trained in Australia amid human rights concerns – The Guardian

Australia: Lawyer urges justice diversion for Indigenous youth – Australian Human Rights Commission

Papuans arrested for marking Human Rights Day – Radio NZ

Grace Millane’s death reminds us of the violence so many women in New Zealand face – New Zealand Human Rights Commission

Majority of Australian women sexually harassed at work – survey – Thomson Reuters Foundation

South and South-East Asia

Afghan villagers face hunger as fighting cuts northern roads – Thomson Reuters Foundation

Landmark human rights and climate change investigation could help millions worldwide – Amnesty International

Indian Girl Asks the Police to Arrest Her Father for Not Building a Toilet and Sparks a Movement – Global Citizen

Lawyers on wheels: ‘solidarity bus’ represents Kyrgyzstan’s landless women – Thomson Reuters Foundation

Singapore Editor Charged with Defamation for Publishing Letter Alleging Government of Corruption – News 18

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the author(s) alone


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