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)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

4 September 2011

Back from hiatus, folks! It was much longer than expected, but two moves and a new laptop later, here we are. Expect a weekly format for the rest of 2011, and in 2012 we'll see if we can produce at least a couple of RoundUps each week. As always, thanks for checking out the HRRU and feel free to contribute!


  • Angola = This Saturday, youth protestors in Luanda were threatened, repressed, and detained without cause; watch their story here. (GVO)

  • Libya = In June of this year, al-Qaddafi forces locked more than 20 detained people into storage containers and left them to die; 11 people survived while the others suffocated. (AI)

  • Libya = Currently, rebel leaders of the National Transitional Council are allegedly arresting or detaining without cause dark-skinned black African migrants and citizens, with the rhetoric that they are suspected pro-Qaddafi mercenaries. (HRW)

  • Somalia = Advocating to give up. Sort of. Doctors Without Borders' international president is tellin' it like it is, arguing that many people in Somalia cannot be saved, that this famine is man-made and aid agencies must address that as the root cause and must not claim that a donation means everyone will get fed. Have you engaged in international aid work? What do you think of this public statement? Why don't we hear more comments like this from agency leaders? (GRD)


  • Bolivia = The Supreme Court issued convictions for 7 leaders who were involved in citizens' deaths during 2003's Black October demonstrations against gas pipelines, which turned deadly when police opened fire on the protestors. (OHCHR)

  • United States = An American woman had to turn to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to get justice in her domestic violence claim against her estranged husband. “The Commission’s decision recommends that the USA examine how it fails domestic violence victims and enact comprehensive reforms at the local, state and federal levels to ensure that victims receive adequate protection from their abusers.” (AI)

  • United States = New Mexico residents are takin' to the streets … or, more precisely, to the Capitol Building this Tuesday the 6th to protest proposed anti-immigrant legislation. (BNHR)


  • China = Proposed revisions to the Criminal Procedure Law could empower Chinese authorities to secretly detain people for up to 6 months; international law considers these illegal “enforced disappearances” (HRW)

  • Russia = Environmental activists Victor Chirikov, Aleander Onufrienko and Valery Semergei are being held in administrative detention after a groundless arrest and 11pm trial. Click here to find out how to advocate for Victor, Aleander and Valery. (FIDH)


  • Syria = 88 detained people have died since the pro-reform protests began in March of this year, including a thirteen year old boy who appeared to have been tortured and castrated; there is evidence that torture played a role in at least 50 of the deaths. (AI)


  • Tahiti = Small steps for transgender rights … the Tahitian Court of Appeal upheld the fine for a local official who refused to officiate at a wedding where one partner is transgender. (ADV)


  • Check out some sobering employment and labor stats in honor of Labor Day 2011 here.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Hey folks,

Just wanted to give you a quick update: the Human Rights Roundup has been delayed due to total technical fail (laptop is now in the good hands of the GeekSquad) and a personal move (oh, packing ...).

The Roundup will be back in full force and better than ever in June, 2011.

See y'all then.


Friday, May 6, 2011

6 May 2011


  • Libya = Colonel al-Gaddafi is committing war crimes against civilian residents of Misratah. (AI, DWB)

  • South Africa = The rape and murder of a GLBT activist is a hate crime, say local activists (the police disagree). (ADV, CHNG)
  • Uganda = Why it sucks to be a woman (or in love with a woman, or the child of a woman, or the parent of a woman, etc.) in Northeastern Uganda these days. (DWB) [and can rock stars help?]


  • Mexico = Yesterday kicked off the first day of a nonviolent activist walk to the capital protesting drug-related violence. (GV)

  • USA = In Detroit, Michigan almost 50% of residents are functionally illiterate. How does this happen in such a wealthy nation? How can we address this?


  • ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is meeting this weekend:
  1. Human Rights Watch is calling on ASEAN to "reject Burma's request to chair the regional grouping in 2014 until the Burmese government takes genuine steps towards improving human rights, including the release of more than 2,000 political prisoners." (KI)
  2. Other activists are asking ASEAN to create "concrete measures to end the human suffering caused by the ongoing clashes" between Thailand and Cambodia. (AT)
  • China = The solution to ending the Jasmine Revolution in China? Arrest everyone. Including Liang Haiyi, Ran Yunfei, and Wang Lihong. (AI)
  • Kyrgyzstan = The International Independent Commission has found that during the June 2010 unrest in Osh, Kyrgyz authorities failed to adequately protect ethnic Uzbek civilians. (FIDH)


    • France = Ummm, diplomacy? Libyan diplomats are asked to leave because the French Foreign Ministry "no longer recognizes their diplomatic status." (AJ) What do you think about this? Valid concern or inflammatory gesture or both?


    • Syria = Human rights violations in the town of Daraa? Not surprising since the city has been surrounded by the Syrian army since 25 April: no one is allowed out, and no one (no food, supplies, etc) allowed in. (HRW)


    • The Business and Human Rights Network is promoting the development of "a global standard of business principles pertaining to children’s rights" by UNICEF, Save the Children and the UN Global Compact.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    The Osama bin Laden Edition

    Pakistan = So, we all know that Osama bin Laden is now dead … here are some human rightsy-takes on the story =

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    28 April 2011


    Congo = Conflict minerals (used in our cell phones and other high-tech products) are just as atrocious as conflict diamonds. Actor Ryan Gosling joins advocacy superstar John Prendergast in completing a short film about the issue: "Raise Hope for Congo." (ENGH)

    Sudan = A project allowing women to carry four times as much water also serves as a means to lessen incidents of sexual violence. (IRIN)

    Uganda = President Museveni has arrested opposition leader Kizza Besigye for the 4th time this month. (BBC)


    USA = YAY! Justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal? The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has “unanimously declared his death sentence unconstitutional.” (DN)


    Bangladesh = Discrimination against indigenous peoples and in-fighting are still prevalent despite the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord. (IRIN)

    The Courage Unfolds Campaign invites activists to join in their message of promoting GLBT rights in Asia. You can watch their video here. (DIA)


    United Kingdom = Women have the right to be priests, says Professor Conor Gearty. (AWID)


    Syria = Activists who have had to flee are still doing their part to advocate for Syrian rights, even from Lebanon, as over 400 people are dead in Syria. (PRI)


    Check out this ICRC-hosted webcast on customary international humanitarian law.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    26 April 2011


    Burundi = A bleak, explicit example of how poverty leads to prostitution. (IRIN)

    • This story was skewed in a “they risk AIDS” context, rather than “they are forced to degrade themselves, put their bodies and lives at risk because they are women” context. What do you think?

    DR Congo = A “mobile gender justice court” has now tried over 115 cases, convicting 51 people. (PMBZ)

    Mauritania = Slavery in modern Mauritania means hiring girls as young as 10 to be your maid. Suck. (PMBZ)


    Uruguay = Voting on a bill “to annul the amnesty that prevents prosecution” for people who committed human rights abuses while acting under the former dictator is sparking heated public debate, and public opinion is against the bill offering amnesty. (GRD)

    USA = Generosity of spirit? Salt Lake City, Utah has installed voluntary parking meters whose profits benefit local people who are homeless. (AOL)

    USA = People in the state of Maryland gathered last night to support Chrissy Lee Polis who was attacked at a McDonald's for being a transgender person. (ADV)


    India = Newly discovered mass graves of people who were Sikh will hopefully propel the government to investigate this 1984 internal genocide. (HRW)

    Sri Lanka = According to a UN report published yesterday, the government's actions against the Tamil Tigers in 2009 which resulted in the deaths of 40,000 people are likely to be qualified as war crimes. (AJ, AI, OHCHR)

    China = As China and the USA meet in Beijing tomorrow to discuss human rights, China has warned diplomats about giving feedback on its domestic policies. (WP)

    Afghanistan = Like a Virgin? If you are not one, you could be persecuted, and doctors may “examine” you to check if you actually are “pure.” Forced or coerced examinations are now considered torture. (IRIN)


    United Arab Emirates = Peaceful government protests leads to jail for 5 activists. (HRW)


    Johnson & Johnson vs. Doctors Without Borders; DWB press release is online here.

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    25 April 2011


    Central African Republic = Are Gender-Based Violence legal clinics having any effect? Perhaps … (IRIN)

    Kenya = Forced male circumcision is the new hot topic for gender based violence experts. (IRIN)

    Makes sense, yes? If forced female circumcision, or “female genital mutilation” is recognized as a human rights offense, shouldn't the male equivalent be so recognized, too? Are they comparable? What do you think?

    Mauritania = Tear gas was fired at civilians during “day of rage” protests. (BBC)

    Nigeria = Yay! The gay-friendly House of Rainbow church is trying to re-open … albeit via YouTube. After the Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay had to flee the country due to death threats, it looked like the end of gay-friendly congregation. A brave volunteer who hosts the services in Nigeria, accesses the Reverend over YouTube and the congregation is now closed to all new worshipers and meets in secret locations to protect themselves. (GRD)


    USA = Proof that the United States knowingly imprisoned innocent people at Guantanamo. (DN, AJ)

    • You can watch the Guardian's video report here.


    Sri Lanka = Journalist Shantha Wijesuriya who works for Lankaenews has been arrested. (GV)


    Hungary = People of Roma descent are continuing to be threatened by a para-military “neighborhood watch” in Northern Hungary's Gyongyospata. (GV)


    Syria = Demonstrators in the southern city of Daraa and the Damascus suburb of Douma are facing violent security forces; at least 20 people have been killed and dozens arrested. (DN, WP, FR24, NYT)


    New media and the spread of Human Rights; thoughtful essay by Matthew Smith. (HP)

    Carroll Bogert's excellent essay “Whose News” on citizen journalism and human rights is online here.

    Click here for an online manual designed for human rights defenders.