International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Floriane Borel and Mitch Paquette

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 1-7 April 2019.

This week’s story in focus

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UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

On Wednesday, the country of Brunei implemented a new Sharia Penal Code which introduces cruel punishments including death by stoning for homosexual acts, adultery, and abortion as well as amputation of limbs for stealing. Children who have reached puberty and are convicted of these offences may also be subjected to the same punishment as adults under the new penal code. Human rights groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the UN have all criticized both the crimes and brutal punishments included in Brunei’s penal code for violating basic human rights and have called for its repeal.

The move by Brunei to implement these new laws has led to international public outcry and multiple company boycotts of the country and properties owned by the Brunei’s leader, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Celebrities including George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres, and Sir Elton John have all contributed to calls for boycotts until the laws are repealed. The new penal code violates many of Brunei’s human rights obligations including the right to life, freedom from torture and other ill-treatment, expression, privacy, non-discrimination, among others.

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Floriane Borel, Anene Negeri, and Mitch Paquette

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 25-31 March 2019.

This week’s story in focus

Massive protests took place in Algeria this week against the regime of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika demanding that he end his two decades-long rule and resign immediately. In response to the protests, with crowds estimated in the hundreds of thousands, army chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah stated publicly that it is time for the country to invoke Article 102 of the constitution, which could allow Algeria’s Constitutional Council to remove the president on account of his failing health. However, demonstrations continue with participants asserting that they will accept nothing less than a complete change in government and a wholesale removal of the current ruling class from public office. On Sunday, Bouteflika named a caretaker cabinet, replacing 21 of the country’s 27 ministers, before announcing on Monday that he would step down as President before his mandate ends on April 28th.

Bouteflika is credited by his supporters for his role in the fight for Algerian independence against colonial France as well as ending the 1990s civil war, but after 20 years as head of state, Algerians appear ready for a change. Mass protests began in February when the president announced he would seek a fifth term, despite his ailing health after suffering a debilitating stroke in 2013, which has largely kept him from appearing in public. In response to these early protests, internet shutdowns took place across the country while human rights groups reported cases of arbitrary arrests and issued calls for the government to exercise restraint in quelling the demonstrations.

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Floriane Borel, Anene Negeri, and Mitch Paquette

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.

International

Survivors’ needs must be at the forefront of efforts to tackle sexual violence in conflict – ICRC

Brazilian officer a ‘stellar example’ of why more women are needed in UN peacekeeping – UN News

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Floriane Borel, Anene Negeri, and Mitch Paquette

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

D1s0d5DXgAETr39On March 15, 2019, a group of international experts launched a new tool developed to ensure  human rights compliance in drug policy. The International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy provide insight into how states’ approach to drug control has had negative impacts on the safety, security, and well-being of many communities, and set out key human rights principles to guide reforms of global drug policy. The International Centre for Human Rights and Drug Policy, based at the University of Essex, played a lead role in the development of the guidelines.
These guidelines are a significant contribution to the ongoing debate concerning the inadequacy of harsh punitive approaches to drug control that have dominated this field for over a century. Particularly in the context of drug use and possession, state strategies that privilege punitive approaches and criminalization while rejecting harm reduction programs have been shown to result in harmful public health outcomes and negatively impact a range of human rights.

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Besir OzbekFloriane Borel, and Anene Negeri

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.

International

Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review 2019 – International Federation for Human Rights

Only Six Countries In the World Have Full Gender Equality in the Work Place – UN Dispatch

International Women’s Day: Empowering more women decision-makers ‘essential’, says Guterres – UN News

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Besir OzbekFloriane Borel, and Mitch Paquette

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

General Assembly Seventy-third session, 47th plenary meeting - The situation in the Middle East - Item 38

UN Photo/Loey Felipe

According to their February 28th press release, the UN Commission of Inquiry into the 2018 protests in Gaza, has established “reasonable grounds” to believe that Israeli soldiers may have committed “violations of international human rights and humanitarian law” including war crimes and crimes against humanity during their suppression of Palestinian demonstrators. The Commission’s full 25-page report found Israeli forces responsible for 189 Palestinian deaths and more than 9,000 injuries during last year’s protests at the Gaza border.

The legal basis for finding such violations of international law, according to the report, is that Israeli forces fired on individuals who posed “no imminent threat of death or serious injury to those around them” as required under the right to life. The Commission of Inquiry also found “reasonable grounds” to believe that Israeli soldiers deliberately targeted medics, journalists, children, and disabled persons. The panel recommended that UN members impose individual sanctions on those responsible and called on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to share the Commission’s findings with the International Criminal Court (although Israel does not recognize the Court’s jurisdiction). Israel has rejected the investigations findings and criticized the Human Rights Council for its “obsessive hatred of Israel.”

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Besir OzbekFloriane Borel, Anene Negeri and Mitch Paquette

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

British-born Shamima Begum was 15 years old when she left Bethnal Green, London to join ISIS. Recently, she fled from Baghuz, the last remaining ISIS stronghold in Syria, after the deaths of her two children and while nine months pregnant with her third child. Now living in the al-Hawl refugee camp with her newborn son, Shamima has publicized her desire to return to the UK.

Since this story came to light, the UK Home Office has decided to revoke Shamima’s British citizenship. Under UK law, it is only possible to deprive a person of their citizenship if it is “conducive to the public good” and if doing so would not leave a person stateless. The Home Office has said that because her mother is of Bangladeshi heritage, Shamima would be eligible for citizenship in that country. The government of Bangladesh, however, denies that Shamima is a Bangladeshi citizen and says that she would not be allowed to enter the country. Human rights groups have criticized the UK Home Office’s decision as a breach of Shamima Begum’s right to not be arbitrarily deprived of her UK citizenship. Amnesty International UK has stated that revoking Shamima’s citizenship is “legally and morally questionable,” particularly given that children are involved, and has further stated that if the government suspects that an individual returning the UK has committed crimes under international law, they should be investigated and charged appropriately.

 

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Besir OzbekFloriane Borel, and Mitch Paquette

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

A court in The Hague, Netherlands heard the first arguments on Tuesday, February 12th in a suit against Royal Dutch Shell Plc alleging the company’s complicity in the executions of nine Ogoni activists by the Nigerian authorities in 1995. The case is brought by four widows who claim that their husbands were targeted for their participation in protests against Shell’s subsidiary in Nigeria. One of the claimants who testified on Tuesday, Esther Kiobel, originally filed a case against Shell in the United States, but the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the US did not have jurisdiction. They seek compensation and a public apology for the company’s role in violations of their husbands’ physical integrity, right to a fair trial, and right to life, as well as their own right to a family life. Shell denies any connection to the executions.

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Ogoni widows outside the court room in The Hague (Photograph: Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

The allegations in the case concern the Nigerian military’s repression of Ogoni protests against Shell’s pollution during the 1990s, which resulted in widespread human rights violations. Environmental activists continue to face tremendous risk across the globe. Last year 77% of the 321 activists targeted and killed for their work were defending land and environmental rights.

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Besir OzbekFloriane Borel, Anene Negeri and Mitch Paquette

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

Wednesday, February 6th marked this year’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as designated by the United Nations. Introduced in 2003, this day of awareness highlights the on-going, widespread nature of FGM, as well as efforts to put an end to the practice and provide care for survivors of such procedures.

FGM is recognized as a human rights violation and an extreme form of discrimination against women by a range of UN Agencies and human rights bodies (e.g. UNICEF;UNFPAWHOUN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women; UN Human Rights Council). Recent measures to address FGM include its designation under the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a harmful practice to be eliminated by 2030 and domestic laws prohibiting FGM in a number of countries. However, significant efforts are still needed to effectively put an end to the practice. Thousands of cases are still reported across the world, from the United States and the United Kingdom, to Somalia,KenyaIndia and Australia.

 

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Besir OzbekFloriane Borel, and Mitch Paquette

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.

International

UN Court judge quits the Hague citing political interference – The Guardian

Human trafficking cases hit a 13-year record high, new UN report shows – UN News

Early warning, early action: changing the way disasters are managed – ReliefWeb

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