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News on Human Rights
Maldives Remain UK Priority Thu Jul 19, 2018 13:09 | Human Rights
US Withdraw From UN Human Rights Council Thu Jul 19, 2018 13:06 | Human Rights
Returning Refugees Greece Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:56 | Human Rights
Australia Immigrants English Speaking Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:54 | Human Rights
Border Security Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:48 | Human Rights
For lefties too stubborn to quit
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Human Rights - Thu Jul 19, 2018 13:09
The Maldives remains a human rights priority country for the UK government, a report published Monday said, with the human
The Maldives remains a human rights priority country for the UK government, a report published Monday said, with the human rights situation continuing to deteriorate and an increase in the intimidation of human rights defenders and journalists.
There was an increase in violent threats and intimidation against human rights defenders and NGOs, in particular against those advocating for freedom of religion or belief, said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The UK would continue to support human rights defenders, it said, and would work with international partners to press the Maldives to restore democratic freedoms including free and fair presidential elections scheduled for September.
?The UK will continue through public and private messaging to make clear to the Government of Maldives our concerns over the erosion of democracy and human rights.?
Other UK human rights priority countries include Somalia, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Russia.
Criticism of the Maldives government has rocketed since February, when President Abdulla Yameen imposed a state of emergency in response to a Supreme Court ruling ordering the release of political prisoners.
The UN human rights chief described the government?s actions as ?an all-out assault on democracy? while Amnesty International called it ?a license for repression, targeting members of civil society, judges and political opponents.?
The ranks of high-profile figures jailed or exiled since Yameen took office include two former presidents, two Supreme Court justices, two vice presidents, two defence ministers lawmakers and the country?s chief prosecutor.
The Maldives has also fallen in a press freedom index.
The European Union has approved targeted measures, such as travel bans and asset freezes, against those responsible for ?undermining the rule of law or obstructing an inclusive political solution and serious human rights violations? if the situation in the Maldives does not improve.
Human Rights - Thu Jul 19, 2018 13:06
Terming the Human Rights Council as the United Nations’ “greatest failure”, US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley has alleged
Terming the Human Rights Council as the United Nations’ “greatest failure”, US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley has alleged that the institution has provided cover for the world’s most inhumane regimes as she defended the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from it.
Last month, the US withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council and condemned its “shameless hypocrisy” in absolving wrongdoers through silence and falsely condemning those committing no offence, saying America will not take lectures from hypocritical institutions.
In her remarks at a top American think-tank – The Heritage Foundation – the Indian-American US Ambassador to the UN alleged that “more often, the Human Rights Council has provided cover, not condemnation, for the world’s most inhumane regimes. It has been a bully pulpit for human rights violators.”
Alleging that Human Rights Council has been, not a place of conscience, but a place of politics, Ms Haley said the UN body has focused its attention unfairly and relentlessly on Israel.
Meanwhile, it has ignored the misery inflicted by regimes in China, Venezuela, Cuba, and Zimbabwe, she said.
“Judged by how far it has fallen short of its promise, the Human Rights Council is the United Nations’ greatest failure,” Ms Haley said.
“It has taken the idea of human dignity – the idea that is at the center of our national creed and the birthright of every human being – and it has reduced it to just another instrument of international politics. And that is a great tragedy,” Ms Haley said, noting that she did not come to this conclusion happily, or lightly.
“Many of our friends urged us to stay for the sake of the institution. The United States, they said, provided the last shred of credibility the Council had. But that was precisely why we withdrew,” she said.
The right to speak freely, to associate and worship freely; to determine ones own future; to be equal before the law – these are sacred rights, she asserted.
“We take these rights seriously – too seriously to allow them to be cheapened by an institution – especially one that calls itself the Human Rights Council,” she said.
Asserting that no one should make the mistake of equating membership in the Human Rights Council with the support for human rights, Ms Haley said to this day, the US does more for human rights, both inside the UN and around the world, than any other country. The US will continue to do that.
“We just won’t do it inside a Council that consistently fails the cause of human rights,” she said.
Ms Haley said America’s withdrawal from the Human Rights Council does not mean that it has given up its fight for reform.
“On the contrary, any country willing to work with us to reshape the Council need only ask. Fixing the institutional flaws of the Human Rights Council was, is, and will remain one of the biggest priorities at the UN,” she added.
Human Rights - Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:56
A delegation from the German Interior Ministry will start discussions with officials in Athens on Tuesday about Berlin?s proposals to
A delegation from the German Interior Ministry will start discussions with officials in Athens on Tuesday about Berlin?s proposals to return 3,300 migrants and refugees that were registered in the Eurodac fingerprint database in Greece but still managed to make their way to Germany. They will also discuss how some 3,500 families living in Greece with relatives in Germany will be reunited.
Meanwhile Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas has sent a letter to the mayors of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros in an attempt to reassure them that asylum seekers will not be returned from Germany to hotspots on the islands. Vitsas dismissed speculation that the government made a deal with Berlin for a suspension of planned value-added tax hikes on these islands in exchange for migrant returns.
?Scenarios that refer to the creation of new hotspots on islands in exchange for low VAT are simply lies,? he said in the letter. ?The situation will remain as is. One hotspot on Lesvos, one on Chios, one on Samos, one on Kos and and one on Leros,? he explained, adding that the aim is to decongest them. Meanwhile, migrant flows to the Greek islands continue unabated, further overcrowding accommodation centers.
From June 22 up until Monday, some 1,519 migrants and refugees arrived, bringing their total number on the islands to 17,924. Of these, 7,573 are at the Moria hotspot on Lesvos, 2,212 are at the Vial center on Chios and 3,914 are on Samos.
Human Rights - Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:54
Most Australian migrants who speak another language with their family have no trouble with the English language, official data reveals.
Most Australian migrants who speak another language with their family have no trouble with the English language, official data reveals. Last month, Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge said the government would consider suggestions that basic conversational English should be a requirement for permanent residency. It followed moves to make aspiring citizens have a “competent” level of English.
Most migrants who speak another language at home have a high level of proficiency in spoken English. Australian Bureau of Statistics data released on Wednesday reveals that the majority (73 per cent) of permanent migrants spoke a language other than English at home in 2016. Permanent migrants who spoke a language other than English at home generally reported a high level of proficiency in spoken English (83 per cent).
Skilled migrants had the highest level of English proficiency, at 92 per cent. Those in the family and humanitarian streams ? who arrived under different eligibility criteria and circumstances ? had lower rates of English proficiency, at 73 per cent and 66 per cent, respectively. In 2016, there were 2.2 million permanent migrants whose arrival date connected with their permanent visa was between January 1, 2000 and August 9, 2016.
Almost three in five were skilled migrants, about one in three were in the family stream while one in 10 were part of the humanitarian stream. Permanent migrants were younger than the general population, with 85 per cent of working age ? 15 to 64 years old. There were differences in the top countries of birth of permanent migrants by visa stream. The majority of the skilled migrants were from India (19 per cent), followed by England (13 per cent) and China (12 per cent).
The top countries for family migrants were China (14 per cent), England (8.8 per cent) and India (8.3 per cent). Humanitarian migrants were most likely to be born in Iraq (18 per cent), Afghanistan (12 per cent) and Myanmar (8.1 per cent). In 2016, 70 per cent of permanent migrants aged 15 years and over held a non-school qualification. In terms of work, the majority of skilled migrants aged 15 and over were in the labour force (83 per cent).
That compared with almost two-thirds of family migrants and about half of humanitarian migrants. Out of the skilled migrants, more than one in three were working in professional occupations. Of these, about one in 10 were working as health professionals (9 per cent), or business, human resource or marketing professionals (8.8 per cent), and ICT professionals (6.6 per cent). Employed permanent migrants most commonly reported earning weekly incomes of $650 to $999 per week. More than half of permanent migrants aged 15 and over owned their home outright or with a mortgage, while 42 per cent were renting.
Human Rights - Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:48
Four central European countries have said they will not attend an EU mini-summit on migration this weekend, and joined Austria
Four central European countries have said they will not attend an EU mini-summit on migration this weekend, and joined Austria in urging the bloc to focus on boosting border security rather than distributing refugees among member states. Leaders from Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria met in Budapest on Thursday and reaffirmed their view that tougher anti-immigration measures must be the EU?s priority in its search for a coherent asylum policy.
?Europe must be able to protect its borders and guarantee the security of its citizens,? said Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, whose country ? like Poland and the Czech Republic ? faces EU legal action for refusing to accept a quota of refugees.
Both Czech premier Andrej Babis and Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz called for the EU border agency Frontex to be significantly bolstered, to ensure no repeat of the 2015 migration crisis that saw more than one million people enter the EU via Turkey and the Balkans.
?We have to have a Europe capable of defending us . . . We have to strengthen Frontex, to protect our external border and ensure internal freedom,? said Mr Kurz.
Writing later on Twitter, Mr Kurz added: ?We need to put aside the debate on distribution [of refugees] and focus on protection of the external border, on which there is already great consensus among EU member states.?
That debate has raged since 2015, with Germany leading calls for all EU members to take refugees to ease the burden on entry points like Greece and Italy, while Mr Orban has built border fences and led resistance to any quota scheme.
Leaders across central Europe and in Austria and Italy now broadly share Mr Orban?s views, as migration returns to the top of the agenda for next week?s EU summit.
Human Rights - Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:47
More food and drink has been sent to a pair of military ships off Sicily as Italy waited for other
More food and drink has been sent to a pair of military ships off Sicily as Italy waited for other European nations to pledge to take some of the hundreds of migrants on board before allowing them to step on to Italian soil. Germany, Spain and Portugal each agreed to accept 50 of the migrants, following similar offers by France and Malta on Saturday, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte said. But the Czech Republic rebuffed the appeal, calling the distribution plan a ?road to hell?.
Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini has vowed to prohibit further disembarking in Italy of migrants who were rescued while crossing the Mediterranean unless the burden is shared by other EU countries. Salvini, who leads the right-wing League party in Italy?s populist coalition government, told reporters Sunday the ?aim was for brotherly re-distribution? of the 450 rescued passengers on the two military ships.
Conte contacted fellow EU leaders Saturday, asking them to take some of the rescued migrants. But Czech prime minister Andrej Babis tweeted that his country ?won?t take any migrants?, dismissing Italy?s approach as a ?road to hell? that would encourage more migrant smuggling.
Human Rights - Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:45
The Czechia government has expressed support for a same-sex marriage bill, sponsored by 46 members of parliament from different political
The Czechia government has expressed support for a same-sex marriage bill, sponsored by 46 members of parliament from different political parties. Czeslaw Walek, the founder of the Czech marriage equality movement Jsme Fer, has been campaigning for marriage equality since 2016. He told Human Rights Watch that the government?s move was important because 37 conservative members of Parliament had submitted a bill a few days earlier to change the Constitution to include a provision limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman.
Both bills and the government?s opinion will be discussed in the lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies. If the majority votes for the marriage equality bill, it will be submitted to the Senate. Walek believes the Senate, which has veto power over all bills, is more conservative than the Chamber of Deputies on the issue of marriage equality but he was still hopeful the bill would pass.
If the bill passes in the Senate, it will go to President Milos Zeman, who can either approve or veto the bill. He hasn?t made his position public. Walek told Human Rights Watch: ?The path is long and curvy, but we are hopeful. The best-case scenario is that we will celebrate marriage equality in the Czech Republic during the Pride March of August 2019.?
Human Rights - Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:43
Residents of Northern Ireland risk losing citizenship rights linked to the Belfast Agreement due to new policies being drafted for
Residents of Northern Ireland risk losing citizenship rights linked to the Belfast Agreement due to new policies being drafted for Brexit, campaigners have warned.
The 1998 Good Friday peace deal allows those born in Northern Ireland to be British, Irish or both, thereby also providing the rights of citizens of the European Union (EU). But under new Brexit proposals, Northern Ireland residents with Irish citizenship (plus those who identify as British but are entitled to Irish citizenship) risk losing a range of EU rights. These include access to the European Health Insurance Card, access to EU student fee rates, the right to vote for MEPs, plus the right to be joined by non-European Economic Area (EEA) family members.
A Northern Irish-based human rights group, the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), has now written to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker seeking urgent clarification amid concerns that draft policy for Northern Ireland ?departs from the commitments? made by the UK and the EU.
In a practical sense this would render Irish citizens in Northern Ireland as having fewer EU rights than Irish citizens resident in existing third countries. In the correspondence, seen by Belfast journalism website thedetail.tv, the CAJ said it was concerned the commission was departing from the commitments made in the EU-UK Joint Report published in December 2017 to frame the Brexit talks.
The UK and EU would have to commit to a special arrangement to reflect the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland. The CAJ is concerned that the position of the European Commission ?would remove access to almost all EU rights from Irish citizens in Northern Ireland.
It would limit Irish citizens in Northern Ireland to holding mostly ?dormant? EU rights that are only exercisable if the rights holder leaves Northern Ireland and takes up residence in another EU member state.
?In a practical sense this would render Irish citizens in Northern Ireland as having fewer EU rights than Irish citizens resident in existing third countries.?
The CAJ said the commission?s position ?also conflicts with the commitment to protect the [Belfast Agreement] in all its parts?.
In 2017 the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin received 82,274 applications from people in Northern Ireland for Irish passports, up from 45,646 in 2012. Wider concerns over the protection of rights in Northern Ireland were highlighted in June, when a joint statement from the Alliance Party, the Green Party, SDLP and Sinn Féin expressed ?profound concern that Brexit will result in further regression on equality and rights?.
Human Rights - Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:40
Violence increased throughout Mexico. The armed forces continued to undertake regular policing functions. Human rights defenders and journalists were threatened,
Violence increased throughout Mexico. The armed forces continued to undertake regular policing functions. Human rights defenders and journalists were threatened, attacked and killed; digital attacks and surveillance were particularly common. Widespread arbitrary detentions continued to lead to torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. Impunity persisted for human rights violations and crimes under international law.
Mexico received a record number of asylum claims, mostly from nationals of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Venezuela. Violence against women remained a major concern; new data showed that two thirds of women had experienced gender-based violence during their lives. The rights to housing and education were compromised by two major earthquakes.
Early in the year an increase in gas prices caused social unrest, including road blockages, lootings and protests throughout the country, leading to hundreds of arrests and some fatalities. Throughout the year, security forces carried out a number of operations to crack down on a spate of clandestine robberies of petroleum. At least one of these security operations resulted in a likely extrajudicial execution by the army in May. The National Human Rights Commission raised concerns over deficient security measures in prisons that affected the rights of people deprived of their liberty. There were riots in prisons including in the states of Nuevo León and Guerrero, and a hunger strike in the federal maximum security prison at Puente Grande, Jalisco state.
The new adversarial criminal justice system, fully operational since June 2016, continued to replicate problems from the old inquisitorial system, including violations of the presumption of innocence and the use of evidence collected in violation of human rights and other illicit evidence. Bills were introduced in Congress that would weaken fair trial guarantees and expand the scope of mandatory pre-trial detention without a case-by-case assessment by a judge.
Congress approved long-overdue laws against torture and other ill-treatment and against enforced disappearance by state actors and disappearances committed by non-state actors. Legal reforms allowed the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Sustained public debates over the transformation of the federal Attorney General?s Office, responsible for law enforcement and prosecution, into an independent body were conducted during the year. In August, civil society organizations and opinion leaders presented a proposal for the design of this institution.
In October, the acting Attorney General removed the Special Prosecutor for Electoral Crimes, regarded as independent by different political forces, after he publicly reported being subjected to political pressure to disregard a high-profile corruption case.
Human Rights - Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:36
The United Arab Emirates is facilitating torture, including sexual violence, beatings and electric shocks, in secretive prisons in southern Yemen,
The United Arab Emirates is facilitating torture, including sexual violence, beatings and electric shocks, in secretive prisons in southern Yemen, a new report from Amnesty International has alleged. Men suspected of belonging to either al-Qaeda or Isis have been forcibly disappeared in detention centres either run by UAE forces or Yemeni militias under their control since the country?s civil war broke out in 2015, the rights watchdog said in a new report published on Thursday.
Amnesty investigated the fate of 51 men swept up in the Arab coalition?s hunt for extremists since March 2016. Families who have formed protest groups to discover the whereabouts of loved ones say hundreds of men in total have been disappeared.
The findings reinforce recent reports from the Associated Press and local protest groups into alleged disappearances and abuses ? including that several activists, journalists and members of the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood have been detained after terror-related accusations.
The collected evidence amounts to war crimes which should be immediately addressed in an international investigation, Amnesty says. Current and former detainees described widespread horrific treatment such as the use of electric shocks, severe beatings, anal rape with metal poles and being forced to live in cramped conditions.
?I saw things I do not want to see again. In that place, you do not even see the sun? Then one day, they released me at night, they said they had me confused with someone else? ?It was a mistaken identity, sorry?. It was as if they had done nothing after all the suffering I endured from electric shocks,? said one former detainee at a facility in Aden.
?The families of these detainees find themselves in an endless nightmare where their loved ones have been forcibly disappeared by UAE-backed forces,? Amnesty?s crisis response director Tirana Hassan said in a statement.
?When they demand to know where their loved ones are held, or if they are even still alive, their requests are met with silence or intimidation.?
The UAE has publicly denied all allegations of holding or abusing detainees.
?The UAE does not manage or run prisons in Yemen,? the government-run National Media Council said in a statement on Thursday.
?[We believe] that these reports are politically motivated to undermine its efforts as part of the Arab coalition to support the Yemeni government.?
The Emirates and Saudi Arabia are the exiled Yemeni government?s main allies in its fight to regain control of the country from Houthi rebels, who are supported by Iran.
Since last year the UAE has also backed a militia known as the Southern Transitional Council, which seeks renewed independence for southern Yemen, and funded and trained various other local security forces which bypass the central Yemeni government.
?The UAE, operating in shadowy conditions in southern Yemen, appears to have created a parallel security structure outside the law, where egregious violations continue to go unchecked,? said Ms Hassan. The Arab coalition is backed by several western partners, including the UK and US, which also sell Abu Dhabi and Riyadh weapons Amnesty says have caused unnecessary civilian deaths in the brutal three-year-old war.
Original article >>> https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/yemen-war-crimes-investi...