Prisoners Held to Double Standard
Selected Source: Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch recently published a report linking the 1996 Prison Litigation Reform Act to abuse of American prisoners. Among other restrictions, the Act limits prisoners’ access to the justice system by capping attorneys’ fees and barring claims of prison violence for failure to meet stringent technical requirements.
Selected Source: The Washington post
President Obama signed a memorandum last month giving federal employees’ same-sex partners access to more benefits, including allowance of sick leave to care for their domestic partners. However, Congress must approve further legislation extending general health and retirement benefits to same-sex partners, who remain concerned about the disparity between heterosexual and homosexual benefits.
Pressure against Death Penalty in Asia
Selected Source: United Press International
In anticipation of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, a number of international organizations spoke against various Asian governments’ continued imposition of the death penalty for drug offenses. Sixteen Asian nations still impose the death penalty, including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
Gay Pride Shanghai Goes Forward
Selected Source: XinhuaNet
Hundreds of LGBT Chinese citizens assembled in a restricted street venue mid-June to commemorate Shanghai Gay Pride. A week-long celebration took place, complete with singing, badminton and swimming contests. The week culminated in several same-sex marriage ceremonies, despite the nation’s continued prohibition on gay marriage.
Peruvian Protests Turn Violent
Selected Source: Amnesty International
Thirty deaths resulted when police tried to remove demonstrators blocking roads in the Peruvian Amazon. The protests began two months ago when the Peruvian government failed to consult indigenous communities about legislative decrees affecting land use, in defiance of international obligations. The decrees were the result of a free trade agreement with the U.S.
Argentina Accused of Economic Sabotage
Selected Source: MercoPress
The Falkland Islands government recently accused Argentina of intentionally impeding the Islands’ main industries—fishing, tourism, and oil exploration. A Falklands legislator reported that these tactics are aimed at forcing the Islands and Britain to recognize Argentine sovereignty. An Argentine spokesperson added that the measures are meant to pressure Britain into discussions.
Shell Settles Nigeria Case for $15.5 Million
Selected Source: NY Times
In a landmark case, Royal Dutch Shell settled with Nigerian plaintiffs who claimed the company was complicit in the Nigerian government's 1995 execution of activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and others. The complaint alleged that Shell officials provided Nigerian police with weapons, participated in security sweeps, and hired government troops who shot at villagers protesting pipeline construction.
South Africa Trafficking Rating Improves
Selected Source: All Africa
In its 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report, the U.S. government acknowledged that South Africa’s human trafficking rating is significantly improving, although the nation still does not meet minimum standards to eliminate trafficking. The South African government has sought prosecutions against sixteen suspected traffickers and plans to pass a comprehensive anti-trafficking law later this year.
Selected Source: BBC News - UK
A recent UK survey revealed that citizens are divided on the effects of the 1998 Human Rights Act (“HRA”). The survey showed that a strong majority of citizens believed the HRA was important to society, but almost half the respondents believed the only current beneficiaries of the Act are criminals and terrorists.
Kazakh Human Rights Reform Needed
Selected Source: Human Rights Watch
Kazakhstan is slated to assume chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (“OSCE”) in January of 2010, on the condition that its human rights record improves to meet rigid OSCE standards by that time. A core function of the OSCE is to ensure human rights are respected by participating states.
Capital Punishment in Saudi Arabia and Iran: Unfair Trials and Juvenile Executions
Selected Source: Various Sources
International human rights law requires that a country imposing the death penalty do so only in cases where its judicial system has meticulously complied with fair trial standards. These standards include a defendant’s right to competent counsel, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and to not be forced to confess guilt. In Saudi Arabia and Iran, however, confessions obtained under duress are routinely admitted into judicial proceedings. Defendants are not able to challenge evidence during trial and are frequently subjected to extensive pretrial detention without judicial review.