Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category

Death Sentences and Executions 2013

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Death Sentences and Executions 2013
Source: Amnesty International

2013 was marked by some challenging setbacks on the journey to abolition of the death penalty. Four countries – Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Viet Nam – resumed executions and there was a significant rise in the number of people executed during the year compared with 2012, driven primarily by increases in Iraq and Iran.

Executions were recorded in 22 countries during 2013, one more than in the previous year. As in 2012, it could not be confirmed if judicial executions took place in Egypt or Syria. The overall number of reported executions worldwide was 778, an increase of almost 15% compared with 2012. As in previous years, this figure does not include the thousands of people executed in China; with the death penalty treated as a state secret the lack of reliable data does not allow Amnesty International to publish credible minimum figures for China.

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Human Rights Violations and Mental Illness: Implications for Engagement and Adherence

March 22, 2014 Comments off

Human Rights Violations and Mental Illness: Implications for Engagement and Adherence
Source: Sage Open

The literature review identifies and examines human rights violations experienced by individuals with mental illness on a global level. In addition, the intent is to explore how current legislation either reinforces or supports these violations. The authors conducted an extensive review of the existing literature on mental health and human rights violations. Keywords were used to exhaust databases on this subject matter and to collect data, interpretations, and government publications on mental health and human rights. Individuals with mental illness are experiencing human rights violations on a global scale both within and outside of psychiatric institutions. These violations include denial of employment, marriage, procreation, and education; malnutrition; physical abuse; and negligence. This information was reviewed and compiled into the following article, along with interpretations of current implications and suggestions for future research. It is evident that more supports need to be instilled, especially within the context of low- and middle-income countries lacking adequate staffing and accessible services. Furthermore, legislation needs to be modified, updated, or created with relevant systems in place to make these laws enforceable.

New Digital Economy Task Force Report Addresses Digital Economy, Illicit Activity

March 21, 2014 Comments off

New Digital Economy Task Force Report Addresses Digital Economy, Illicit Activity
Source: Thomson Reuters and the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children

The Digital Economy Task Force (DETF) sponsored by Thomson Reuters and the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) today released its report on the emerging digital economy and recommendations for policy makers, financial institutions, law enforcement and others to encourage its growth while preventing the sexual exploitation of children and other criminal activity.

The digital economy and anonymizing technology hold great promise and societal value, from offering financial tools to the world’s unbanked, to protecting dissidents and journalists from unjust government reprisal, said Rubley. But these benefits are clouded by those who use and exploit the digital economy to commit illegal acts. While these are all complicated issues, we believe that a regulatory framework can grow the digital economy and confront those who seek to exploit it for illicit purposes.

The recommendations offered by the DETF include: private and public sector efforts to continue research into the digital economy and illegal activities; invest in law enforcement training; rethink investigative techniques; foster cooperation between agencies; promote a national and global dialogue on policy; and more.

The central challenge is Internet anonymity. There is an emerging “dark web” that enables users to pay for their illegal transactions using digital currencies,” said Allen. “There is a difference between privacy and anonymity. We simply cannot create an environment in which traffickers and child exploiters can operate on the Internet with no risk of being identified unless they make a mistake.”

UN refugee agency calls on the Americas to keep unaccompanied and separated children safe from violence

March 17, 2014 Comments off

UN refugee agency calls on the Americas to keep unaccompanied and separated children safe from violence (PDF)
Source: UNHCR (United Nations refugee agency)

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is concerned by increasing numbers of children in the Americas forced from their homes and families, propelled by violence, insecurity, and abuse in their communities and at home.

In a report released today, Children on the Run, UNHCR analyzes the humanitarian impact this insecurity has had on children, forcing them across international borders to seek safety on their own. The agency calls on Governments to take action to keep children safe from human rights abuses, violence and crime, and to ensure their access to asylum and other forms of international protection.

Frequently Asked Questions — Responsible sourcing of minerals originating conflict-affected and high-risk areas: towards an integrated EU approach

March 13, 2014 Comments off

Responsible sourcing of minerals originating conflict-affected and high-risk areas: towards an integrated EU approach
Source: European Commission

Profits from the extraction of and trade in minerals sourced from unstable regions affected by armed conflict can play a role in intensifying and perpetuating violent conflict. This can take various forms including where armed groups or their affiliates illegally control mines and mineral trading routes, use forced labour or commit other human rights abuses, or tax or extort money or minerals.

As a result, armed groups and security forces in conflict regions can finance their activities from the proceeds of mining and trading of minerals which later enter the global supply chain. Companies further down the production chain run the risk of supporting armed activities and have an interest in sourcing from such regions responsibly.

The best documented and known case relates to the problems in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the United Nations frequently reports on the devastating instability created by foreign and national armed groups generating revenues through their control over natural resources. The Heidelberg Institute for International Research estimates that, together, natural resources and conflict account for roughly 20% of global conflicts.

Under the US Dodd-Frank Act, section 1502, ‘conflict minerals’ are defined as minerals containing tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold originating in the DRC and the adjoining countries. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Due Diligence guidance is based on the same four minerals but is not geographically specific. The EU proposal uses the same basis as OECD.

CRS — Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and U.S. Policy

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Conflict, poor governance, and a long-running humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) present a range of challenges for international policy makers, including Members of Congress. Chronic instability in the mineral-rich and densely populated east of the country has caused widespread human suffering and inhibited private sector investment throughout the wider Great Lakes region of central Africa. Congolese political actors have displayed limited capacity and will to improve security and governance, while neighboring states have reportedly periodically provided support to rebel groups in DRC.

CRS — Syria: Overview of the Humanitarian Response

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Syria: Overview of the Humanitarian Response (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The ongoing conflict in Syria that began in March 2011 has created one of the most pressing humanitarian crises in the world. As of early February 2014, an estimated 9.3 million people in Syria, nearly half the population, have been affected by the conflict. This figure includes estimates of between 6.5 million displaced inside Syria and 2.4 million Syrians displaced as refugees, with 97% fleeing to countries in the immediate surrounding region, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and other parts of North Africa. The situation is fluid and continues to worsen, while humanitarian needs are immense and increase daily.

While internationally supervised disarmament of chemical weapons in Syria is proceeding, albeit with some difficulty, U.S. and international diplomatic efforts to negotiate a political end to the fighting in Syria opened on January 22, 2014, in Montreux, Switzerland. The “Geneva II” talks include some members of the Syrian opposition, representatives of the Syrian government, and other government leaders. The talks came to an end on January 31 and resumed February 10-15, 2014, but ended with little progress in efforts to end the civil war. The parties reportedly agreed to an agenda for the next round of talks. Many experts and observers hoped that a lasting agreement would have been reached on “humanitarian pauses” to allow access and relief to thousands of civilians blockaded in towns and cities in Syria. On February 22, 2014, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2139 (2014) to increase humanitarian access and aid delivery in Syria.

2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

February 28, 2014 Comments off

2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
Source: U.S. Department of State

On February 27, 2014, Secretary Kerry submitted the 2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (commonly known as the Human Rights Reports) to the United States Congress. The reports, now in their 38th year, are available on and Mandated by Congress, the Human Rights Reports help inform U.S. government policy and foreign assistance. They are also a reference for other governments, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, legal professionals, scholars, interested citizens, and journalists.

Ethnic Cleansing and Sectarian Killings in the Central African Republic

February 21, 2014 Comments off

Ethnic Cleansing and Sectarian Killings in the Central African Republic
Source: Amnesty International

“Ethnic cleansing” of Muslims has been carried out in the western part of the Central African Republic, the most populous part of the country, since early January 2014. Entire Muslim communities have been forced to flee, and hundreds of Muslim civilians who have not managed to escape have been killed by the loosely organised militias known as anti-balaka.

“They killed my children heartlessly,” said Oure, a Muslim woman whose four sons were killed by anti-balaka fighters on 26 January. She, her two sisters, their 75-year-old mother, and seven of the family’s children had gone out early in the morning, trying to reach a church in the northwest town of Baoro, when they were caught by an anti-balaka militia unit. “The children were slaughtered in front of our eyes,” Oure continued, sobbing: “both my children and my sisters’ children.” One of Oure’s sisters, Aishatu, was wounded on her hand when she tried to protect the children, who were boys ranging in age from 8 to 17 years old.

Amnesty International has documented large-scale and repeated anti-balaka attacks on Muslim civilian populations in Bouali, Boyali, Bossembélé, Bossemptélé, Baoro, Bawi, and the capital, Bangui, in January, and has received credible information regarding additional attacks in Yaloke, Boda, and Bocaranga. Some of these attacks were carried out in revenge for the previous killing of Christian civilians by Seleka forces and armed Muslims.

Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

February 19, 2014 Comments off

Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Source: United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
From press release:

A wide array of crimes against humanity, arising from “policies established at the highest level of State,” have been committed and continue to take place in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, according to a UN report released Monday, which also calls for urgent action by the international community to address the human rights situation in the country, including referral to the International Criminal Court.

In a 400-page set of linked reports and supporting documents, based on first-hand testimony from victims and witnesses, the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK has documented in great detail the “unspeakable atrocities” committed in the country.

“The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” the Commission — established by the Human Rights Council in March 2013 — says in a report that is unprecedented in scope.

“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” the report says, adding that “Crimes against humanity are ongoing in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea because the policies, institutions and patterns of impunity that lie at their heart remain in place.”

The second more detailed section of the report cites evidence provided by individual victims and witnesses, including the harrowing treatment meted out to political prisoners, some of whom said they would catch snakes and mice to feed malnourished babies. Others told of watching family members being murdered in prison camps, and of defenceless inmates being used for martial arts practice.

The Nexus of Extremism and Trafficking: Scourge of the World or So Much Hype?

February 17, 2014 Comments off

The Nexus of Extremism and Trafficking: Scourge of the World or So Much Hype? (PDF)
Source: Joint Special Operations University (DoD)

In a globalized and increasingly interconnected world, the transfer of information, expertise, and relationships are becoming more complex and more commonplace. The interconnectedness of criminal organizations that span not only countries but across regions of the globe is troubling. However, more troubling is the possibility of the linking of transnational criminal organizations with insurgent and terrorist organizations as addressed in this work by Brigadier General (retired) Russ Howard and Ms. Colleen Traughber. The radical ideologies propagating politically motivated violence now have the opportunity to leverage and participate in traditionally criminal enterprises. This melding of form and function provides criminals with new networks and violent extremists with new funding sources and potential smuggling opportunities.

General Howard and Ms. Traughber delve into the nexus between violent extremist elements and transnational criminal elements by first clarifying whether a real problem exists, and if so, what is the appropriate role for Special Operations Forces (SOF) in confronting it. The authors bring rigor to the subject matter by dissecting the issue of intention and opportunities of criminal organization and violent extremists. The question is confounded by the authors who note the wide variance in the motivations and opportunities of both different criminal organizations and extremist organizations. What the authors do make clear is that the trafficking of humans, weapons, drugs, and contraband (HWDC) is a natural way for the criminals and extremists to cooperate.

Worldwide prevalence of non-partner sexual violence: a systematic review

February 17, 2014 Comments off

Worldwide prevalence of non-partner sexual violence: a systematic review
Source: The Lancet

Several highly publicised rapes and murders of young women in India and South Africa have focused international attention on sexual violence. These cases are extremes of the wider phenomenon of sexual violence against women, but the true extent is poorly quantified. We did a systematic review to estimate prevalence.

We searched for articles published from Jan 1, 1998, to Dec 31, 2011, and manually search reference lists and contacted experts to identify population-based data on the prevalence of women’s reported experiences of sexual violence from age 15 years onwards, by anyone except intimate partners. We used random effects meta-regression to calculate adjusted and unadjusted prevalence for regions, which we weighted by population size to calculate the worldwide estimate.

We identified 7231 studies from which we obtained 412 estimates covering 56 countries. In 2010 7·2% (95% CI 5·2—9·1) of women worldwide had ever experienced non-partner sexual violence. The highest estimates were in sub-Saharan Africa, central (21%, 95%CI 4·5—37·5) and sub-Saharan Africa, southern (17·4%, 11·4—23·3). The lowest prevalence was for Asia, south (3·3%, 0—8·3). Limited data were available from sub-Saharan Africa, central, North Africa/Middle East, Europe, eastern, and Asia Pacific, high income.

Sexual violence against women is common worldwide, with endemic levels seen in some areas, although large variations between settings need to be interpreted with caution because of differences in data availability and levels of disclosure. Nevertheless, our findings indicate a pressing health and human rights concern.

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CRS — “Leahy Law” Human Rights Provisions and Security Assistance: Issue Overview

February 13, 2014 Comments off

“Leahy Law” Human Rights Provisions and Security Assistance: Issue Overview (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Congressional interest in the laws and processes involved in conditioning U.S. assistance to foreign security forces on human rights grounds has grown in recent years, especially as U.S. Administrations have increased emphasis on expanding U.S. partnerships and building partnership capacity with foreign military and other security forces. Congress has played an especially prominent role in initiating, amending, supporting with resources, and overseeing implementation of long-standing laws on human rights provisions affecting U.S. security assistance.

First sponsored in the late 1990s by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the “Leahy laws” (sometimes referred to as the “Leahy amendments”) are currently manifest in two places. One is Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, which prohibits the furnishing of assistance authorized by the FAA and the Arms Export Control Act to any foreign security force unit where there is credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. The second is a recurring provision in annual defense appropriations, newly expanded by the FY2014 Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations bill as contained in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76), to align its scope with that of the FAA provision. (Prior DOD appropriations measures had applied the prohibition to support for any training program, as defined by DOD, but not to other forms of DOD assistance.) As they currently stand, the FAA and DOD provisions are similar but not identical. Over the years, they have been subject to changes to more closely align their language, most recently with the expansion of scope enacted in the FY2014 DOD appropriations law. Nevertheless, some differences remain.

CRS — Crisis in the Central African Republic

February 13, 2014 Comments off

Crisis in the Central African Republic (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report provides background on the evolving political, security, and humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR), which began when a fractious rebel coalition seized control of the central government in March 2013. The report also describes U.S. policy responses and analyzes possible issues for Congress, including oversight of U.S. humanitarian assistance and support for international stabilization efforts in CAR. Congress may also influence the U.S. position in the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council over whether to authorize a U.N. peacekeeping operation in CAR, which would have cost and policy implications.

CRS — The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Issues in the U.S. Ratification Debate

February 11, 2014 Comments off

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Issues in the U.S. Ratification Debate (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via MSPB Watch)

During the 113th Congress, the Senate might consider providing its advice and consent to ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD, or the Convention). CRPD, which has been ratified or acceded to by 138 countries, is a multilateral agreement that addresses the rights of disabled persons. Its purpose is to promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities.

Many U.S. policymakers, including President Obama and some Members of Congress, agree that existing U.S. laws and policies are compatible with CRPD. In fact, some CRPD provisions appear to be modeled after U.S. disability laws. The United States has historically recognized the rights of individuals with disabilities through various laws and policies, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.

CRS — The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: Security and Human Rights Issues

February 10, 2014 Comments off

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: Security and Human Rights Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on July 4, 2007, that Sochi, Russia, had been selected as the host city for the Olympic Winter Games and Paralympics. The Olympic Games, which will be held February 7-23, 2014, are the first to be hosted by Russia as a successor state to the former Soviet Union. Reportedly, some 230 U.S. athletes out of approximately 2,900 from some 88 countries, and about 10,000 U.S. visitors, are expected in Sochi. Olympic events will take place at two main locations: a coastal cluster along the Black Sea and a mountain cluster in the Krasnaya Polyana mountains.

Since the 2007 selection of Sochi as the site of Olympic Games, many observers, including some in Congress, have raised concerns about security and human rights conditions in Sochi and elsewhere in Russia. Sochi is in Russia’s North Caucasus area, which has experienced ongoing terrorist incidents, including several bombings in recent weeks. Through hearings, legislation, oversight, and other action, some Members of Congress have expressed concerns over Russia’s hosting of the Sochi Olympic Games and Paralympics, particularly the risks that terrorism and human rights violations might pose to U.S. athletes and visitors. Other broader congressional concerns have included whether the United States should participate in the Games in the face of increasing tensions in U.S.-Russia relations and the Russian government’s growing restrictions on the civil and human rights of its citizens. Some Members of Congress have called for boycotting the Games. Others have cautioned that U.S. citizens should carefully weigh the security risks of attending, and have urged greater U.S.-Russia counter-terrorism cooperation to ameliorate threats to the Games. In the period during and after the Games, Congress may continue to exercise oversight and otherwise raise concerns about the safety and human rights treatment of U.S. athletes and visitors and the impact of the Games and other developments in Russia on the future of U.S.-Russia relations.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child — Concluding observations on the report submitted by the Holy See

February 6, 2014 Comments off

Concluding observations on the report submitted by the Holy See (PDF)
Source: United Nations

The Committee is concerned that in dealing with cases of child pornography committed by members of the clergy, the Holy See has failed to ensure children’s right to express their views and have them given due weight, and that the Holy See has given preceden ce to the preservation of the reputation of the church over children’s rights to have their best interests taken as a primary consideration. The Committee is concerned that in doing so, the Holy See has undermined the prevention of offences under the Optional Protocol and the capacity of child victims to report them and therefore contributed to the impunity of the perpetrators and created further trauma for child victims of offences.

Human Smuggling and Trafficking into Europe: A Comparative Perspective

February 5, 2014 Comments off

Human Smuggling and Trafficking into Europe: A Comparative Perspective (PDF)
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Human smuggling and trafficking are rapidly growing transnational criminal activities in Europe, where the demand to enter for work or to escape dire political or economic situations in migrant-sending countries exceeds the legal migration opportunities. The problem has become a high priority for EU Member States, and is especially challenging given Europe’s relatively porous borders. This report examines the factors and facilitators at play and assesses policy solutions.

UNICEF’s latest data reveal disparities, show need to innovate to advance children’s rights

February 3, 2014 Comments off

UNICEF’s latest data reveal disparities, show need to innovate to advance children’s rights
Source: United Nations

Declaring that ‘every child counts’, UNICEF today urged greater effort and innovation to identify and address the gaps that prevent the most disadvantaged of the world’s 2.2 billion children from enjoying their rights.

The children’s agency, in a report released today, highlights the importance of data in making progress for children and exposing the unequal access to services and protections that mars the lives of so many.

Investigation of the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women and Notice of Expanded Investigation

January 29, 2014 Comments off

Investigation of the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women and Notice of Expanded Investigation (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Justice (Civil Rights Division)

The Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division has concluded its investigation of allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women pursuant to the Civil Rights o Institutionalized Persons Act (“CRIP A”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. CRIP A authorizes the Department of Justice (“001″) to seek equitable relief where prison conditions violate the constitutional rights of prisoners in state correctional facilities. Consistent with the statutory requirements of CRIPA, we write to inform you of our findings, the facts supporting them, and the minimum remedial steps necessary to address the identified deficiencies. We conclude that the State of Alabama violates the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution by failing to protect women prisoners at Tutwiler from harm due to sexual abuse and harassment from correctional staff.


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