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 summary contains news articles from 5th March to 11th March 2020.
This week’s stories in focus
International Women’s Day Protests around the world
Women took to the streets around the world on the 8th March to protest against inequality and gender violence…
Mexican women: “This is our feminist spring”
80,000 people took the streets of Mexico on 8th March, protesting against gender-based violence. Women went on strike for a day, across areas of both professional and domestic life, to highlight the impact of their absence. Mexico has the highest number of murders of women, averaging more than 10 a day, 320 in January 2020 alone.
The aim of the protests was to challenge the misogynistic view of women held in Mexico’s masculine culture. “Mexico is a country of rights, but only on paper” said Ana Pe cova, Director of EQUIS Justice for Women.
Female protestors in Kyrgyzstan arrested
In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, dozens of women were arrested for ‘public order offences’ as they protested against gender violence and inequality, while masked men attacked them, injuring some and tearing up their placards
Stop the executions of tortured detainees!
Human Rights Watch is calling for the Bahraini authorities to overturn the death sentences of two men who allege they were tortured during detention. Their original convictions were reversed in Oct 2018 when evidence emerged to support their torture allegations but was reinstated by the High Court of Appeal in 2020.
UN human rights experts have called for the release of 4 minors, among those facing death sentences in a mass trial in Egypt. British MPs are urging the Foreign Secretary to intervene on human rights grounds, and Amnesty International’s MENA Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther said “The death penalty can never deliver justice” particularly when the defendants have alleged that they were subject to torture.
‘LGBT+ free zones’ in Poland
Over 100 municipalities in the south-east of Poland have declared themselves as “LGBT ideology free” zones. There has been a rise of right-wing rhetoric from the ‘Law and Justice’ ruling party, declaring the LGBT community a threat to traditional Catholic based Polish morality. The anti-LGBT movement’s aim is to stop the “rainbow plague” (a term coined by the Archbishop of Krakow), destroying the morality of Poland’s youth. Although the zones have no basis in law, they are a clear example of encouraging discrimination.
Bart Staszewski (pictured), an LGBT activist and film-maker, has created “Military zone-do not enter”-style road signs as part of a project to highlight the discrimination. Adam Bodnar, Poland’s independent Commissioner for Human Rights, stated the Government is increasingly homophobic in its sentiments and questioned the allocation of EU funds in areas that allow discrimination to flourish. The European Parliament adopted a convention condemning the so called “LGBTI-free zones” in December 2019.
The abduction of the daughter of Dubai ruler from a UK street
The lapsed investigation into the disappearance of Sheikha Shamsa, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, from the streets of Cambridge 20 years ago is to be reviewed by police. Human Rights Watch is pressing for the release of the ruler’s 2 daughters, who are said to be held captive in the UAE. Shamsa was abducted in 2000 and her sister, Latifa, was kidnapped and forced back to Dubai, after fleeing on a boat to India in 2018. Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the Emir of Dubai and the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Mohammed has strong ties with the UK, creating the largest horse racing team in the world and is a regular at Ascot, often photographed with the Queen.
Other stories making the news around the world
- Open Letter by 85 Organisations regarding rights violations of Refugees (Human Rights Watch)
- Algeria: Peaceful protesters detained arbitrarily must be realised (Amnesty International)
- OPED South Sudan: Time for justice and reform; no celebrations just yet (Amnesty International)
- Italy Coronavirus lockdown (The Guardian)
- Five EU countries agree to take in some migrant children stuck in Greece (BBC)
- Flight MH17: Trial opens of four accused of murdering 298 over Ukraine (BBC)
- Dismissed and detained: British Muslims face mental health issues (Al Jazeera)
- Dutch Postcode lottery grant €1.35 million to Human Rights Watch (Human Rights Watch)
Latin America and the Caribbean
- Brazil recalls diplomats and officials from Venezuela, downgrading relations between States (Al Jazeera)
- Columbia: Abuses amid massive demonstrations (Human Rights Watch) –
- Life for Lebanon’s migrant domestic workers worsens amid crisis (Human Rights Watch)
- Yemen – UN Special Envoy calls for immediate end to hostilities (Reuters)
- Yemen – Death Sentences for 35 Yemeni MPs (UN News)
- Saudi Arms purchases increase by 130% despite alarm of civilian deaths (The Times)
- Trump threatens cities known to harbour undocumented migrants (Al Jazeera)
- Protests against the construction of a gas pipeline through indigenous lands in British Columbia (Al Jazeera)
South and South-East Asia
- Is it game over for Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad? Illegitimate back-door government formed in Malaysia (Al Jazeera)
- Hong Kong: Lack of accountability for police violence could fuel unrest (Amnesty International)
- In Myanmar, Democracy’s dead end as Parliament rejects reforms (Human Rights Watch)
West and Central Asia
- ICC to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan (The Guardian)