Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hiatus and a Change-Up

Hey folks,

Life has gotten busy this Fall and we've started Tweeting instead of blogging ... you can check out the Human Rights RoundUp on Twitter @hrroundup and on Facebook, where we have a page.

As always, feel free to be in touch with human rightsy news!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

25 September 2011


  • Cote d'Ivoire = Grossly under-reported armed civil unrest in the southwestern part of the country has resulted in at least 16 people killed and 50 homes burned, causing residents to flee their houses in Zriglo. Doctors Without Borders' witnesses are reporting seeing, “violently-massacred bodies, including those of children.” (DWB)

  • Ghana = Women on wheels … Cycling in Accra can be dangerous in general, and more so for women, who face social discrimination for engaging in this “male” and/or “rural” activity as a mode of transportation, so some ladies are advocating to change these social perceptions. (JHR)

  • Uganda = This week Thomas Kwoyelo, one of the former commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), was awarded amnesty by a panel of 5 judges in Uganda for all of the alleged crimes he committed during the civil conflict in Northern Uganda. The 53 charges against him included murder, kidnap with intent to kill, willful killing, and aggravated robbery. This conflict displaced over 2 million people and saw 30,000 people killed. (AI)


  • Haiti = Rights groups are calling for the current Haitian administration to prosecute former President Jean-Claude Duvalier for the human rights abuses and violations committed by the government during the tenure of his rule. Duvalier returned to Haiti in January of this year after a 25-year exile in France. (AI)

    • Also, human trafficking of children in Haiti persists … (FPB)

  • United States, Arizona = Perhaps not surprisingly, a new report on the US Border Patrol has found systematic human rights abuses are being perpetuated against people held in detention; these include denial of access to water, food, and medical care, physical abuse, over-crowded cells, sleep deprivation and other psychological abuse. International law calls these actions “torture” – shouldn't we? (BNHR)

  • United States, Georgia = So, Troy Davis was executed by the US justice system at 11:08 pm EST Wednesday night this week … despite the fact that his case rested primarily upon witness testimony and 7 of the 9 witnesses recanted their original testimony … despite the fact that another person confessed to the murder Davis was imprisoned for committing … despite the fact that the death penalty is illegal under international law … c'mon, America, let's exercise justice better than this. (AI, FIDH, GRD)

  • United States, National Football League = Yay! It's now officially okay to be gay and a jock at the same time … the National Football League (NFL) in its most recent collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association has added “sexual orientation” as a protected class. (ADV)


  • Cambodia = Judges Siegfried Blunk and You Bunleng of the Khmer-Rouge Tribunal are applying a definition of “victimhood” in a way which restricts family members from filing petitions on behalf of their loved ones, in contravention of this court's own established pattern of practice. (OSF)

  • India = Water on demand (for those who can afford it), thanks to the sun … an organization called Sarvajal has franchised ATM-style water treatment facilities where people in rural areas who lack access to safe water may purchase clean water from solar-powered ATMs using a pre-paid card. Is the right to water a human right? Should people be charged for access to potable water? (FC)

  • Kyrgyzstan = Animosity between ethnic Uzbek and ethnic Kyrgyz people in Kyrgyzstan has spilled over into the courtrooms … this week an attorney, defendant, and police were attacked during the hearing of an ethnic Uzbek man, deeply undermining access to justice. (HRW)

  • Thailand = 5 people were killed and 118 people were wounded in Narathiwat province this week after alleged insurgents detonated 3 bombs in 15- to 30-minute intervals. The people injured and killed were civilians. (HRW)


  • France = Freedom of religion, what? This week a court in Meaux fined two Muslim women, Hind Ahmas and Najate Nait, for wearing their full-face veils in public. While the alleged premise of this ban on wearing full-face veils in public was for the protection of Muslim women who were allegedly being forced to wear this attire by male relatives, the actual result is likely a restriction on freedom of movement of these women who will now be fined for wearing what they want in public. So, France in trying to stop the alleged oppression of these women has in fact created their own home-bound oppression of these same women. (AI)

  • Greece = Detention centers in Greece which are run by Frontex, the European Union's border enforcement agency, are violating the human rights of migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers and unaccompanied minors in detention, a new report has found. (HRW)


  • Saudi Arabia = Progress, maybe. The Saudi King this week announced that women (who still do not have the right to drive, please note) will soon-ish be allowed as members in the Shura Council—a 150 person government advisory body. Members in the Shura receive their positions by royal appointment, though “they will also be allowed to nominate [candidates, including] themselves and vote in municipal council elections.” (GV, VV, CNN, AJ)

  • Syria = Violence against protestors and their family members continues … the body of the first woman known to have been killed in custody was found with her arms cut off, skin removed, and decapitated. She was 18 years old and had been detained with her brother, whose body also showed signs of torture. (AI, IRIN)


  • Natural resource allocation and climate change are deeply intertwined with the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, a new report has found—you can check out a PDF version of the report online here. (BHR, OHCHR)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

18 September 2011


  • Ethiopia = The government this week arrested three of its most vocal critics – actor Debebe Eshetu, journalist Eskinder Nega, and opposition party leader Andualem Aragie – and is now detaining them in the Federal Police Crime Investigation Department (Maekelawi prison) where torture is allegedly common. It is unclear with which crimes (if any) they have been charged. (HRW, CPJ)

  • Somalia = In Marere, as in other parts of Somalia, security issues are hampering doctors' attempts to address the current outbreaks of cholera and measles which are effecting approximately 5,000 people. Mass vaccinations are now the only means to prevent an increasing number of deaths, but it is unclear whether the ruling authorities will allow a vaccination program in Marere. (DWB)


  • Bolivia = Yay for girl power! Ana, Brigida and Noemí, are young girls in La Paz, Bolivia who refuse to be marginalized child laborers ... they are union leaders. They have joined with thousands of other child laborers to form their own labor union, preserving their legal rights at their jobs and demanding their bosses pay attention to their demands. (WBEZ)

  • United States = The Guantanamo Public Memory Project, which is coordinated by Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, is now available online here. (PMB)

  • United States = According to last year's Census numbers, one in 6 Americans is living in poverty and one in 5 American children struggles with hunger. (WP, DN)


  • China = Yay! It's so rare to report on any positive human-rightsy news out of China, I just had to include this tidbit: over the past decade, China has drastically reduced the death rate of newborns, in part by promoting and incentivising hospital births in rural areas. (GRD)

  • Malaysia = Yay! The government is promising to repeal the 50-year old Internal Security Act, a “preventive detention law,” which has been used to justify state detention of people (read: dissenters, activists, advocates, etc) without the legal mandate to press charges or hold a trial. Presumably this is good news not just for future activists, but for those currently detained under this Act, who now must be A) charged with a criminal offense and brought to trial or B) released from detention. (AI, GRD)


  • The Netherlands = Boo! Required human sterilization?!?! Article 28 of the Dutch Civil Code requires people who are transgender to complete a sex change operation and be “permanently and irreversibly sterilized” before the Netherlands will recognize their gender on any official state documents. (HRW)


  • Afghanistan = Lady leaders! 70-year old Abedo leads a militia in Helmand Province, protecting her people against the local Taliban militias. (FPB)

  • Iran = This has been a bad week for advocates. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer, was sentenced to 6 years in prison for “propaganda against the State, collusion and gathering with the aim of acting against national security, and membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC)”. Another human rights lawyer, Mohammad Seifzadeh, who has been in prison since April, was this week told that a new charge of “propaganda against the system” was being added to his list of crimes. Farshid Yadollahi, another lawyer, was arrested by government security agents while at a dinner party with friends. Likewise, attorneys and human rights advocates Amir Eslami, Afshin Karampour, Omid Behroozi, Mostafa Daneshju, Somayyeh Tohidloo, and Faranak Farid, have been arrested and in some cases, have been sentenced to 50 lashes for their “crimes.” (FIDH)


  • Australia = Wow. In stark contrast with the Netherlands (see above), the government is offering a 3rd gender option on all official and state documents—including passports—for Australian citizens who are transgender or intersex. (OHCHR)


  • Human Rights Watch is reporting on the 48 writers from 24 countries who received the 2011 Hellman/Hammett grants “for their commitment to free expression and their courage in the face of persecution.”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

11 September 2011


  • Gambia = Attorney Moses Richards, human rights advocate and defense attorney, is himself the defendant on a criminal case for “disrespecting the Office of the Preseident” among other offenses. The Banjul Lower Court is expected to issue its verdict tomorrow; Richards has been in detention at the National Intelligence Agency HQ in Banjul since December 30th, 2010. (FIDH)

  • Somalia = The famine is set to remain in effect until the October 2012 harvest, leading to an estimated 750,000 people dying of hunger this year. (FPA)

  • Tunisia = Yay! The government withdrew all of its specific reservations to CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination of Violence Against Women). Next step? Rewrite all domestic laws to conform to CEDAW's standards. (HRW)


  • United States = Are life-saving medicines valid intellectual property claims? If the US implements the IP policies proposed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, developing countries will lose access to affordable generic drugs, resulting in many preventable deaths. (DWB)


  • China = Water rights = human rights. Approximately 345,000 people have been moved into substandard government housing after being removed from their farmlands to make way for governmental “reallocation of water resources” to Beijing. (GRD)


  • Iraq = Journalist Hadi al-Mahdi appears to have been executed in cold blood in his home this week. He had been planning to attend and likely report on a planned protest in Tahrir Square. His Radio Demozy show was known for being wickedly political, witty and irreverent. He had been detained overnight in February with other journalists and threatened with rape before being released. (AI, HRW)


  • Higher taxes = happiness?

      • Using Gallup numbers from 2007, University of Virginia psychologist Shigehiro Oishi looked into the relationship between tax systems and quality-of-life polling in 54 nations. He discovered a direct correlation between a country's tax progressiveness and its happiness: On average, people taxed under the most progressive rates were more likely than anyone else to evaluate their lives as 'the best possible.' They also reported having more enjoyable daily experiences, and fewer negative ones.” (GOOD)