Human Rights – Wagdy Ghoneim Sat, 22 Jan 2022 09:48:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Human Rights – Wagdy Ghoneim 32 32 Human rights sanctions against Bangladesh: prediction or warning? – The Friday Times Sat, 22 Jan 2022 09:23:08 +0000

As far as I know, most Bangladeshi leaders were not particularly upset that their country was not invited to the Democracy Summit hosted by US President Joe Biden the last week of December. But they were outraged by the sanctions imposed by the United States, just after this summit, on seven of the leaders of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the Bangladeshi version of an elite paramilitary police force responsible for numerous disappearances and/or dead. of dissidents and government opponents over the past decade or more. RAB predations have been the subject of numerous reports by international human rights agencies such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as annually in the US State Department’s annual report on human rights. rights in Bangladesh.

Although these various reports are probably not read by the majority of the Bangladeshi population, they circulate widely in the intellectual community and the media. There is no secret to the RAB’s long history of human rights abuses. Yes, there is some ambiguity about the support the RAB received from the United States, some other Western governments, as well as India, when it was established in 2004 as a counter-terrorism force. Terrorism in South Asia was high on the list of issues of concern to the West. In other parts of the region, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, terrorism is fueling insurgencies that threaten political and social stability. But that was short-lived in Bangladesh. While some argue that the RAB was then necessary, looking back at the threat seems illusory; but he was certainly attractive to Western allies.

A retrospective look at history from another angle, however, sheds a completely different light on the evolution of the RAB. Most readers are familiar with the story of Bangladesh’s slow but inexorable politically clear drift towards authoritarianism. I and others have often described it in these pages. From 2008, when the Awami League (AL) was elected with a large majority, after the military interregnum of 2007-2008 (a return to democracy, many of us thought), the AL followed a course careful and cautious but infallible of democracy. During this first term, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s main objective was to get rid of the Interim Amendment (which she had requested a decade earlier), which would have ensured reasonably free and fair elections. When the opposition boycotted the next election due to the removal of this amendment, the AL, with no restrictions on cheating, marched to an even greater victory. And the last election was a farce that made Bangladesh a de facto a one-party state, a state that not only seemed to identify with the authoritarians, but resembled them in almost every way, including its repression of opponents, the media, and any sign of dissent.

The RAB has become the main muscle of an authoritarian state in all respects except its self-identification.

This is clearly why the RAB has been useful to the government since 2008, despite the opprobrium it brought to Bangladesh from human rights agencies and advocates. Established as an anti-terrorist organization, unofficially authorized to use the violent tactics of terrorism against putative terrorists, it has instead become a violent terrorist unit against the citizens of Bangladesh who are branded as opponents of the government and therefore described as “terrorists”. The RAB has become the main muscle of an authoritarian state in all respects except its self-identification.

And, of course, the outside world with which Bangladesh has dealt has also changed drastically. I wasn’t personally involved, of course, but I guess the sequence of US involvement looked like this: the US, which had focused on terrorism when the RAB was created, the argued from the beginning against critics like human rights agencies, because he thought the RAB was useful as a counter-terrorism tool, then set about reforming it to explain to Congress why he was defending it always (numerous “training” programs to which its leaders obviously only gave a nod), to tough diplomatic approaches and threats, but no action to curb it from the many excesses, to the nonchalance (Trump administration).

Biden said early in his administration that he would put democracy and human rights at the center of his foreign policy. The administration took a while to get started. The long wait may have been the terrible shape in which Trump left the State Department. And the Biden administration’s continued difficulty getting high-level (political) nominations confirmed due to Republican tactics in the Senate. Although things seem to have sped up somewhat, there are still a large number of officers, mostly professional diplomats, awaiting confirmation from the ambassador’s deputy secretary. The new ambassador to Bangladesh has just been confirmed and will take office next month. And, by the way, a new ambassador to Pakistan has finally been appointed, but not yet confirmed. I believe there hasn’t been a regular (appointed and confirmed) Ambassador to Pakistan since 2018. This is how the Trump administration has messed things up at the State Department.

As far as Bangladesh is concerned, I suppose readers are interested in two issues: first, these sanctions, and possibly others (this may not be finished yet, as I will explain below ), will they make a difference as to whether Bangladesh pursues its political orientation towards party-authoritarianism; and second, will it turn US-Bangladesh relations into a hostile one? I suspect the answer to both questions is, not really.

I think Sheikh Hasina is way too close to his life goal – which has seemed to me for some years now to be the perpetual rule of Bangladesh by the family of the ‘Father of the Nation’. Every decision she has made along the way from 2008 until now points to this obsession, from the deification of Mujib, to the eventual destruction of the main opposition party, to the establishment by different means of Mujib. of a one-party state. This does not mean that I think Bangladesh will forever remain an autocracy under her and her family. I suspect, however, that she has succeeded in locking down the nation so successfully that fear reigns among potential rivals for power, and the instruments of repression are so effective that no opposition can form while it is still in power. But whether this effective mechanism of repression will hold when she leaves the scene is another question altogether. I doubt he can, as he seems to have no ideology other than self-glorification, which is a self-destructive ideology once the sole ideologue is gone.

And will the US-Bangladesh relationship degenerate into serious hostility? In this case, hostility does not mean violence, because the United States does not care enough about Bangladesh to resort to violence, even though Sheikh has sold his country’s soul to China. But she wouldn’t, because she wants Chinese money (don’t everyone?), but not enough to undermine her own obsession with perpetual family rule. For the United States, the question is how to be aggressive enough to keep certain democratic avenues open for the future and save as many lives as possible for a viable opposition when the time comes to make it relevant for the future of the country. .

One document that gives me an idea of ​​future US policy strategy is a pretty brilliant article, written for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace by my friend Ali Riaz, titled “How Bangladesh’s Digital Security Law Creates a Culture of fear”. I’m pulling in this paragraph from Ali’s article. The law is relatively new, having brought together by the government in 2018 several earlier acts that were already draconian in their censorship of dissent or criticism of the government. So it turned out to limit speech even more than previous laws had by “giving law enforcement the power to arrest anyone, search any premises and seize any any equipment without a warrant, requiring only suspicion that a crime had been committed using social media”. media.” In addition, “it allows the government to order the removal and blocking [of] any information or data on the Internet that it deems necessary, thereby providing ample opportunity to silence those who criticize its policies or data on human rights abuses. In the three years since its enactment, more than 1,500 cases have been filed under this law. More than 25% of them concerned journalists; 30 percent were politicians (clearly from the opposition). Of course, there are many more that are undocumented.

The United States has a serious interest in keeping Bangladesh out of the clutches of China, which must temper its enthusiasm for its renewed promotion of democracy there, but I think that will be the other main, if not the main point at ‘agenda.

Clean technologies can help defend democracy and human rights, part 2 Thu, 20 Jan 2022 17:25:34 +0000

This article is part two of a 4-part series on how clean technology can help defend democracy and human rights. You can find part 1 here.

Clean technologies can reduce the funding of authoritarian regimes

Another way clean tech can help in the fight for democracy is by starving authoritarians of the funding they need to grow and grow.

As I have already pointed out (see part 1), this is not guaranteed. Saudi Arabia and the Communist Party of China are actively working to position themselves to benefit from the transition to renewable energy. By channeling fossil fuel wealth into clean tech investments and establishing dominance in rare earth mineral supply chains, authoritarian regimes strive to continue taxing the world as they do today. today with money and investments in manufacturing, oil, etc. National politicians in democratic countries who are not good at human rights and democracy also get a lot of this money from fossil fuels.

If we get renewable energy infrastructure from ethical sources and use that energy to power ethically sourced electric vehicles, we’ll cut off all those scoundrels. Without the money of the world, they will not be able to survive, much less extend their slimy tentacles into the affairs of other countries.

Sorry, tankers. If the Stalinists and Maoists cannot fill the reservoirs, they will have to march. The same goes for people on the far right with similar dreams. Keeping money out of the hands of people who despise human freedom is always the right decision.

The problem of Internet and telecommunications shutdowns

Global communication has changed the western world and continues to do so. The freedom to share information and ideas is the cornerstone of liberalism (as in classical liberalism and the Enlightenment, not the liberal vs. conservative paradigm of today). Being able to share controversial ideas, criticize leaders, organize political parties and even actively work to erode the power and influence of political leaders are now seen as rights. For most of human history this was not so, but printing presses, mass literacy, and then telecommunications destroyed the information monopoly on which feudalism and monarchy depended.

In some parts of the world this has not happened, and in others it is actively moving in the opposite direction. In some countries, information is still tightly controlled. Censored and filtered internet connections, banned books, state-run media, astroturf and “disappeared” people saying things a regime doesn’t like are all popular tools in the toolbox authoritarian. Few countries are completely innocent of using these tools of oppression, but free countries no longer do so, or do so much, much less than authoritarian countries. More importantly, there are criminal consequences for officials caught doing such things in free countries.

But even extensive use of these tools of oppression is not always enough to sustain the regime. When unrest and conflict get too hot for them, it is common for these regimes to completely disconnect telecommunications. In addition to the crippling resistance movements that rely on the internet and cellular connectivity for communications and keep the foreign press in the dark, many other people who are not fighting the regime are caught in the crossfire. Refugees, healthcare providers, educational institutions and businesses are all impacted by the loss of internet connectivity. Sometimes it costs the lives of innocent civilians.

Even democratic countries struggle with this, but these shutdowns are limited in scope and usually end up triggering federal investigations meant to pressure local governments not to do so. So, no, there’s no room for the “whataboutism” of professional propagandists and 50 Cent army types on this one. This is not something government officials get away with in free countries.

This problem grows and threatens all free countries

It’s tempting to think that such things might not be our problem. If you live in a country where relative freedom is high, you might think it’s easier to ignore the bad things happening in the world because they’re depressing and there’s nothing you can do about it. Perhaps more importantly, people living in a relatively safe democratic country with strong human rights protections may feel safe from such things, so it doesn’t affect them personally.

Unfortunately, that is simply not true.

Authoritarianism is on the rise around the world. The Global War on Terror, like any other governmental “war” with a vaguely defined enemy and goal (the War on Drugs is another prime example), has eroded freedom and made enemies. Financial downturns have left many people financially unstable or downright impoverished. Nationalism rose almost everywhere and people were crying out for strong men like Donald Trump, Xi Jinping and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to help them fix everything. The erosion of democracy and human rights is something that not only has happened, but continues to happen globally.

Even countries that were already considered authoritarian have managed to become more authoritarian and impose more and more on their citizens. Here’s a great example of how it happened in China, of a man who really loved it and made great positive content out of it, but lost almost everything to authoritarian repression.

Things only got worse for him and he had to flee the country. He then had to go to great lengths to get his Chinese wife and child out before they were banned from leaving.

While I personally don’t think the Capitol Riot of January 6, 2021 was on the level of Pearl Harbor or the September 11 attacks, they show us that there is no shortage of people in the United States who would rather have a more authoritarian government. Attempts to disrupt the transfer of power failed, and the few people with alleged violent plans simply couldn’t get away with it. The real issue we face is not what happened that day, but what might happen next time when they are better organized and better prepared to get the strongman they want.

Even in places where internal conflict does not threaten to lead to totalitarianism, the threat of military action that degrades or ends freedom persists. Russia is massing troops on the border with Ukraine and has troops in Kazakhstan. The Chinese government is constantly threatening and harassing Taiwan with military aircraft and other “grey area” actions. Myanmar’s army has taken over the country and is fighting the rebels with extreme brutality in a conflict that threatens to spill over into other countries.

In many of these conflicts, internet freedom and the general freedom to use telecommunications technologies are at risk. If someone like Donald Trump put himself above the rule of law in the United States, we already know he would easily use telecom blackouts to gain the upper hand. It is common for an invading military force to shut down the internet, as happened recently in Kazakhstan, and it would most likely happen in Ukraine or Taiwan if faced with a successful invasion.

Fortunately, clean technologies can help prepare us for authoritarian regimes should they invade or take over their own country. A mix of old radio technology, newer computer technology, and renewable energy could remove this tool from the tyrant’s toolbox forever. Proceed to Part 3 to learn more.

Featured Image: A screenshot from showing gas prices in Los Angeles, California. Clean technologies can help defend democracy and human rights by defunding authoritarian regimes.

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India should stop using abusive foreign financing law Tue, 18 Jan 2022 16:43:18 +0000

(Geneva) – The Indian government should immediately stop harassing the Center for the Advancement of Social Concerns and its People’s Watch program unit, ten human rights groups said today. The government should stop using the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act and other abusive laws to silence civil society in India.

The groups are Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Dalit Solidarity Network, International Service for Human Rights and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) as part of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders ‘man.

On January 8, 2022, India’s national investigative agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), raided the offices of the non-governmental organization Center for Promotion of Social Concerns (CPSC) in Madurai, State. of Tamil Nadu. CBI officers entered the group’s premises and seized several documents. CBI officers have informed the Center for the Advancement of Social Concerns that they are investigating allegations of fraud and financial irregularities under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, a law that regulates foreign funding of organizations Indian non-governmental organizations.

The Center for Promotion of Social Concerns, a leading human rights organization better known by its People’s Watch program unit, monitors human rights abuses, works with victims of socially abused and economically marginalized people, including by the police, and provides human rights education and training. In 2016, the Home Office rejected the group’s application for renewal under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act. They said it was “based on a field agency report,” which civil society leaders say broadly refers to intelligence agency or law enforcement reports.

When the Center for Promoting Social Concerns challenged the government’s decision in the Delhi High Court, the Home Ministry told the court that the group had used foreign funds to share information with United Nations special rapporteurs. and foreign embassies, “casting India’s human rights record in a negative light… to the detriment of India’s image.” The government called this “undesirable activities detrimental to the national interest”.

The government’s response in court is evidence that it violates India’s international obligations by targeting a group that promotes compliance with international human rights instruments and cooperates with UN human rights mechanisms. The government has also alleged financial irregularities, although the Delhi High Court previously cleared the group of those charges in 2014 after the organization challenged similar suspensions in 2012 and 2013. The case is still pending.

The government appears to have systematically ignored court rulings in favor of civil society organizations and their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association. The courts have repeatedly reminded the government that in a democracy peaceful dissent is protected and cannot be muzzled.

The continued harassment of the Center for the Advancement of Social Concerns and People’s Watch violates their right to freedom of association and access to funding and appears to be aimed at punishing the organization for its human rights work and intimidating its staff.

This crackdown is part of a broader crackdown on civil society in India, including through the use of draconian laws such as sedition and terrorism. Since 2016, authorities have revoked, suspended, refused to renew the FCRA license of hundreds of civil society groups, or accused them of evading the law and frozen their bank accounts. These include Indian Social Action Forum, Lawyers Collective, Sabrang Trust, Navsarjan Trust, Anhad, Oxfam India, Greenpeace and Amnesty International India. Groups working on the rights of India’s most vulnerable populations such as Dalits, religious minorities and Adivasis are particularly vulnerable.

Over the years, a number of United Nations agencies have expressed concerns about the use of the Foreign Contributions Control Act to silence dissenting voices. In 2016, three United Nations human rights experts urged the government to repeal the law, saying it was being used to “hinder” access to foreign funding and that it “fails to meet international standards in matters of human rights”. In October 2020, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said in a statement that the FCRA’s overbroad and vaguely worded provisions are “open to abuse” and that the law is “in fact being used to dissuade or punish NGOs for their human rights reporting and advocacy that authorities perceive as essential in nature.

Yet in 2020, India’s parliament passed amendments to the law, adding intrusive government oversight, additional regulations and certification processes, and operational requirements, which further undermined access for groups in the civil society to foreign funding and their ability to uphold human rights. job.

The National Human Rights Commission of India should promptly investigate the government’s refusal to renew the registration of the Center for the Advancement of Social Concerns under the law and take all appropriate and necessary measures to protect the human rights defenders and organisations, including their right to freedom of association and access to funding.

The Indian authorities should immediately end all acts of harassment against the Center for Promotion of Social Concerns and People’s Watch, drop all claims against them and renew their registration under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, in order to allow them to resume their work in favor of human rights. The government should also amend the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act to bring it into line with international law and human rights standards and stop using it to target defenders and others exercising their basic human rights. It should further ensure that all human rights defenders and organizations are able to carry out their activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.

Human Rights Watch condemns Australia for climate, asylum seekers and indigenous rights Mon, 17 Jan 2022 01:12:09 +0000

Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, the detention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the nation’s continued support for fossil fuel industries have been condemned by leading global watchdog Human Rights Watch in its annual global report.

The report says that despite a “strong record of protecting civil and political rights”, serious human rights problems remain.

Last year, the period under review, marked eight years since Australia reintroduced offshore processing.

The system, which the government uses to process asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat, has been called “cruel treatment” which “tarnishes the country’s global reputation” and limits “access to sunlight, space for exercise and fresh air”.

“About 230 refugees and asylum seekers remained in Papua New Guinea and Nauru at the time of writing,” the report said. “Some of the refugees and asylum seekers transferred from Papua New Guinea and Nauru to Australia were held in hotel rooms. At least 12 refugees and asylum seekers died in the offshore processing system Australian since 2013, including six by suicide.

The lack of rights given to First Nations Australians has also been widely criticised.

Despite making up only 3% of the general population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians make up 30% of all adult prisoners, while Aboriginal children are 17 times more likely than non-Aboriginal Australian children to be imprisoned.

At least 11 Indigenous Australians have died in custody in 2021.

The fact that Australia has yet to raise its national age of criminal responsibility – a policy that disproportionately affects Indigenous youth and allows for the arrest, detention and imprisonment of children as young as 10 years – was also denounced.

While concerns about disability rights, older people’s rights and freedom of expression were highlighted, the impact of Australia’s climate change policy was widely highlighted, with the report including the issue in part of the nation’s assessment for the first time.

“The global climate crisis is a human rights crisis, and Australia, as one of the world’s largest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases, is failing to live up to its global responsibilities” , wrote Sophie McNeill, researcher at Human Rights Watch. group. “The Australian government should quickly reduce emissions and stop subsidizing fossil fuels to avoid the most catastrophic climate consequences.”

In October 2021, Australia committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

While the announcement was applauded, many said the country needed to do much more, including announcing an ambitious emissions reduction target by 2030, halting approvals for new coal mines and scrapping reliefs. significant taxes that continue to benefit fossil fuel companies.

Australia’s ban on citizens traveling in and out of the country at the start of COVID-19 has also been criticized.

]]> How I did it: “I work in international human rights – the cases stay with you” Sat, 15 Jan 2022 09:00:00 +0000
‘A lot of people want the five-year or ten-year plan, but careers don’t work that way’ (Picture:

Welcome back to How I Made It,’s career journey series, with a new episode coming out every Saturday.

This week, the focus is on human rights – an area that can be oversubscribed to land a job.

We are talking about Vicki Prais, 50, who trained as an international human rights lawyer and then in 2019 got into human rights consulting.

Her career over the past 25 years has seen her travel all over the world, which has been a plus given her “itchy feet”, as she tells

From campaigning for Amnesty International to legal advice to the UK government, she has held a wide range of roles.

Currently, she resides in London due to the pandemic, but will potentially be able to hit the road again once things allow.

“I’ve worked with asylum seekers, refugees and charities,” she tells us.

“I love having a meaningful impact on someone’s life. There’s a lot of variety in this job – you don’t have to go the legal route.

Here’s how Vicki got here.

Hello, Vicky. How did you make a career in human rights?

I studied law as a degree and didn’t really like it until I could study things like international law, human rights and civil liberties.

I’ve always felt like I wanted a career in service, which is how I always talk about my job.

This came to fruition for me when I was a student and volunteered for a prison crèche, where I looked after children while family members visited relatives.

This, combined with my studies, showed me that this was where my heart was when it came to the work I wanted to do.

After a stint in Geneva where I gained experience fresh out of university, I did a Master’s degree in human rights and public freedoms.

How is your career looking at the moment?

Right now, I’m self-employed as a human rights consultant, so I take on projects and assignments with a multitude of organizations and institutions.

It gives me autonomy and independence so I can work on a variety of things in and out of my comfort zone.

When it comes to human rights, you are truly on the cutting edge where you do your best to help and support those who have no voice or need help to amplify their voice.

You help them get out of danger to a safe place.

Did you have a solid plan to get where you are?

It’s been a long and winding road – I’ve taken every opportunity that has come my way.

There was no design or blueprint and it served me well.

Many people want the five-year or ten-year plan, but careers don’t work that way.

I went where my feet took me.

Vicki Prais gives a talk on careers

Presenting a conference on careers in human rights to students at Concordia University, Montreal in 2019 (Photo: Vicki Prais)

What do you think of your work?

It’s exhausting and it can be very emotionally draining – hugely – but the other side of the coin is, for example, when I was an asylum lawyer and got asylum in the UK, c It was extremely rewarding because you are helping someone start their life over. .

Or, when you see that your report has caused the government to make changes, it’s gratifying. But it takes time for these things to happen, to see the rewards.

It is work that touches you deeply and does not leave you – it accompanies you.

And it’s often going out alone, it’s uncertain, I don’t know what will follow. You have to trust that the job will come.

Is it easier to dissociate yourself from the work you do, especially when a case is not going as you hoped?

You have to have limits and I know it’s very trivial to talk about self-care, but I think for our work as professionals and human rights defenders, we have to take care of ourselves.

If we want to do our job well, we have to be in the right place to do it. We must be healthy and wholesome ourselves.

It took me a while to develop. I’ve had difficult cases where things didn’t go well… I was once a Human Rights Adviser at the Foreign Office in London and screened British nationals in detention overseas.

Vicki Prais

Working in Kosovo in the early 2000s (Photo: Vicki Prais)

I had the case of a person who was on a hunger strike and the man died. Even today, I think about this case. He has not left me and never will.

This line of work can have a profound effect on us.

It is important not to hesitate to consult if you need to unpack things.

Does networking play a role in getting a job in this industry?

I hate to say this because of course it’s about what you can do and your skills, but a lot is about networking.

You have to make those connections and you realize very quickly that you’re never far from people – it’s a small world.

An average day in the professional life of Vicki Prais

Vicki says there really isn’t a typical day given the diversity of her career. But here’s a glimpse of a recent day at work…

9am: Vicki is at her desk and ready to go. She’ll start with email and administration, which includes adding people to LinkedIn to expand her network.

11 a.m.: She has just finished a report on the impact of Covid on prisons. To do this, she spent hours interviewing judges, government officials and lawyers.

Vicki Prais

Working in Kosovo in the early 2000s (Photo: Vicki Prais)

2 p.m.: She will review information such as reports and research.

4:00 p.m.: Time will be devoted to drafting and writing.

6 p.m.: The working day is over.

On top of that, she takes the time to mentor graduates and early career professionals and says helping people get into the industry is a “calling.” She also has a podcast talking about these issues.

You told me about a time when a case didn’t turn out the way you expected, but are there any memorable successful cases you’ve worked on?

I got asylum from a guy from Angola and it was a tough case to deal with. He was a chef in a restaurant in London at the time and he invited me to dinner – I really like that.

When you help someone, it stays with you.

There was a man in a cell who had so little sunlight that his hands were turning yellow from vitamin deficiency, so we pressured the authorities there to remove him. Eventually it was moved.

Small wins matter because you make someone’s life a little more tolerable.

What is the salary?

You don’t do this for the money.

As a consultant, my income is very irregular because you don’t know what the next job is.

If you work for big organizations like the UN, that’s a good salary. At the Council of Europe, I was on a non-taxable salary and you received benefits, so there are places where you can earn well.

But in general, it’s not a very profitable sector – you go there for other reasons, because you want to improve things in some way.

Do you have a story to share?

Contact us by emailing

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Human Rights Watch says Bolsonaro is a threat to democracy in Brazil – report Thu, 13 Jan 2022 12:16:00 +0000

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends the presidential handover ceremony at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on December 16, 2021. REUTERS / Adriano Machado / File Photo / File Photo

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BRASILIA, Jan. 13 (Reuters) – This year’s parliamentary elections in Brazil will be a test for the country’s democracy amid threats from far-right President Jair Bolsonaro who has questioned the validity of his electoral system, said Thursday Human Rights Watch.

In an annual report on human rights violations around the world, the Washington-based group urged Brazil’s Supreme Court, Congress and other democratic institutions to remain vigilant and resist any attempt by Bolsonaro to undermine the elections to ‘October.

“President Bolsonaro has tried to weaken the pillars of democracy, attacking the justice system and repeating baseless allegations of electoral fraud,” said Maria Laura Canineu, director of Human Rights Watch in Brazil.

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Her government has promoted policies that violate human rights in various areas, including the rights of indigenous peoples, women’s rights, the rights of people with disabilities and freedom of expression, according to the report.

Bolsonaro has promoted bills aimed at denying the rights of many indigenous peoples to their traditional lands and, in practice, legalized illegal mining in these territories.

During his administration, deforestation in the Amazon reached its highest level since 2006, as the government’s own data shows, Human Rights Watch said.

The president’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the rights report. Bolsonaro plans to run again in October, although he has not officially declared his candidacy.

HRW said Bolsonaro continued to spread false information about COVID-19 vaccines after a Senate investigation found his government endangered the health of Brazilians by ignoring scientific measures to contain the virus and making the promotion of drugs with no proven efficacy.

Bolsonaro has also encouraged police violence and championed a bill that makes it harder for police to be held accountable for abuse, he added.

Police lethality hit an all-time high in 2020 in Brazil, with the highest number of deaths resulting from police action since the indicator began to be monitored, according to the report, adding that 80% of the victims were black .

His government has also carried out criminal investigations against political criticism, including with the use of the 1964-1985 military dictatorship’s national security law that it defends, he said.

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Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Sandra Maler and Bernadette Baum

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The crime of murdering scientists will not go unpunished: senior human rights official Tue, 11 Jan 2022 16:42:00 +0000

A senior Iranian justice official called the crime of assassination of the country’s nuclear scientists a blatant human rights violation, saying the killings – largely blamed on the Israeli regime – would not go unpunished.

Kazem Gharibabadi, the deputy head of the judiciary for international affairs and secretary of the country’s High Council for Human Rights, posted a tweet on Tuesday on the 10e anniversary of the assassination of senior nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan.

He praised the scientist for his tireless efforts to “promote and localize peaceful nuclear knowledge”.

“The crime of murdering scientists will not go unpunished as a gross violation of human rights,” Gharibabadi said.

A chemistry expert, Ahmadi Roshan, 32, oversaw a department at the Natanz nuclear power plant. He was assassinated on January 11, 2012 by a magnetic bomb placed on his car in northern Tehran, during a terrorist attack blamed on Israel.

In recent years, Iranian nuclear scientists have been the target of assassination attempts by Western and Israeli spy agencies.

Between 2010 and 2012, four Iranian nuclear scientists – namely Masoud Alimohammadi, Majid Shahriari, Darioush Rezaeinejad and Ahmadi Roshan – were murdered, while another, Fereydoon Abbasi, was injured in an attempted murder.

In June 2012, Iran announced that its intelligence forces had identified and arrested all terrorist elements behind the assassination of the country’s nuclear scientists.

In the latest case, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who headed the Defense Research and Innovation Organization of Iran’s Defense Ministry, was assassinated on November 27, 2020.

Following the assassination, Iranian officials said Israel acted with U.S. intelligence and carried out the targeted assassination of the prominent nuclear scientist.

Gharibabadi said in November that Iran would soon announce the final verdict in the case of the assassinations of several high-level nuclear scientists, adding that a case has already been filed and more are underway.

HSBC owns stake in company linked to human rights abuses in China Sun, 09 Jan 2022 18:56:25 +0000

Sunday 09 January 2022 18:56

UK human rights groups are increasingly concerned about HSBC’s involvement with the Chinese government.

HSBC holds more than £ 2million of shares in a branch of a Chinese paramilitary organization which has been accused of human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims, it has been revealed.

The British bank holds £ 2.2million of shares in Xinjiang Tianye, which is a chemicals and plastics company, for an anonymous client.

The company’s parent company is the Xinjiang Tianye Group – a paramilitary and economic organization that has helped the Chinese government monitor and detain Uyghur Muslims in the northern province of Xinjiang – which is currently under US sanctions.

The Sunday Times reports that the company is facing a series of US sanctions, making it illegal for US citizens to conduct transactions or services for the Xinjiang Tianye Group.

This includes American workers who work for companies based in other countries.

Beijing has placed around 1 million Uyghurs in labor camps and there are numerous reports of forced sterilizations and mass destruction of mosques.

Many international organizations have called Beijing’s actions genocide.

Iain Duncan Smith, leading Chinese conservative and skeptic, told The Times: “The Kow-Tow project is alive and well in some UK companies. After all, HSBC increasingly appears to have meddled with China’s despotic government.

UK human rights groups are increasingly concerned about HSBC’s involvement with the Chinese government.

The bank supported China in imposing national security laws in Hong Kong, which effectively ended free speech in the region.

A senior HSBC executive – which is headquartered in the UK, but does much of its business in Hong Kong – explicitly and publicly supported the draconian new laws of the time.

HSBC executive Noel Quinn, shortly before the laws came into force, called on Beijing to stabilize the security situation in Hong Kong after more than a year of local protests against the Chinese government.

The bank also decided to freeze the accounts of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong under the command of local police.

Then-Foreign Minister Dominic Raab criticized HSBC for supporting Beijing in Hong Kong last year, saying human rights should not be “sacrificed on the altar of bonuses bankers ”.

Uyghurs file criminal complaint against Chinese officials for human rights abuses Sat, 08 Jan 2022 04:29:00 +0000

A group of Uyghurs living in Turkey whose relatives are either imprisoned or missing in China filed a criminal complaint on Tuesday with a Turkish prosecution against 112 Chinese government officials. They accused the 112 officials of committing genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and rape in the far west of the Xinjiang region. The camp detainee forum, which includes Turkey-based Uyghur families or captives from the Uyghur camp, held a press conference outside the Çağlayan courthouse in Istanbul to announce the filing of the complaint of 19 Uyghurs for the purpose of to seek justice, Radio Free Asia reported.

It should be noted that Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, as well as Chen Quanguo, the former secretary of the Communist Party of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, are among the Chinese authorities mentioned in the lawsuit for their involvement in the mistreatment of 116 inmates.

In addition, the event brought together representatives of different Turkish political groups, lawyers and human rights defenders, Turkish civil society authorities, journalists and representatives of Uyghur organizations such as the Uyghur Meshrep Foundation. , the Union of Cities, the Federation of East Turkestanians, as well as the Human Rights Watch Association of East Turkestan.

The complaint of the 19 complainants was built on the concept of universal jurisdiction

According to Gülden Sönmez, human rights activist and lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case, the complaint was based on the concept of universal jurisdiction, which allows national courts to prosecute people for serious breaches of international humanitarian law. Sönmez told Radio Free Asia that she expects the Turkish justice system to issue arrest warrants against the 112 Chinese authorities and hold them to account for their alleged offenses.

Stressing the fact that “This is not a politically motivated case,” Sönmez explained, “Among the plaintiffs are our fellow Turks. Turkish justice has a duty to initiate legal proceedings involving at least Turkish citizens detained in China, ”Radio Free Asia reported.

China detained nearly 1.8 million Uyghurs and Turkish minorities

On top of that, China has reportedly detained nearly 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkish minorities in detention centers in Xinjiang. The government claims the prisons are vocational training institutes and denies widespread and recorded complaints that detained Uyghur Muslims have been mistreated and tortured.

Meanwhile, the protest came as other countries took action against Chinese authorities accusing them of crimes against some of mainly 12 million Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Public denunciations, economic sanctions, import bans on goods created using Uyghur forced labor and diplomatic boycotts of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February are among the measures taken.

(Image: AP / ANI / Representative Image)

Key European Parliament official hails Bahrain’s democracy, parliament and human rights achievements under the leadership of HM the King | THE DAILY TRIBUNE Thu, 06 Jan 2022 05:33:34 +0000

TDT | Manama

The Daily Tribune –

A senior European Parliament official praised Bahrain’s achievements in democracy, parliament and human rights under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

David McAllister, chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, stressed the importance of keeping up to date with these developments.

He was visiting Bahrain and met with senior officials yesterday to review the Kingdom’s ties and cooperation with the European Union to serve common interests.

In a meeting with Foreign Minister Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, McAllister welcomed the progress made in establishing close parliamentary relations with Bahrain.

He also affirmed the will of the European Union to continue cooperation with Bahrain and to promote coordination on various regional and international issues.

They also exchanged views on the latest political and security situation in the region and its repercussions on security and stability.

Dr Al Zayani praised the depth of relations between Bahrain and the European Union.

He stressed the importance of McAllister’s visit in strengthening cooperation and parliamentary diplomacy, as well as strengthening ties between countries.

Parliamentary diplomacy

McAllister was also received by President Fawzia bint Abdullah Zainal as they discussed ways to further develop relations between the Council of Representatives and the European Parliament in various areas.

The president noted the council’s efforts to activate parliamentary diplomacy and enhance the democratic image of Bahrain under the leadership of HM the King.

She said that Bahrain has elevated the values ​​of tolerance and coexistence and mobilized its efforts to adopt civilized humanitarian initiatives, which have been appreciated by the international community, civil society associations and human rights institutions. .

Zainal highlighted Bahrain’s possession of a strong legislative structure and legal basis that supports the comprehensive reform approach, which makes good citizenship the basis for development and modernization of state institutions and governance. right.

Prerequisite for growth

The President of the Shura Council, Ali bin Saleh Al Saleh, highlighted the constant measures taken by Bahrain to promote human rights and respect freedoms.

He described the approach as the result of HM the King’s vision and his reform project which is based on respect for human rights as a precondition for growth and development.

Al Saleh was speaking while receiving McAllister.

The head of the Shura highlighted the strategies of the government, led by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, to strengthen democracy and human rights.