International Human Rights Law News: Week of Jan 30th

Amnesty International are set to release their Israel ‘apartheid’ report, and the Inter-American Court finally provide murdered human rights defender Digna Ochoa with some dignity.

Source: B’Tselem, 2018.

Monday 31st January, 2022:

ISRAEL: Amnesty International are set to release their report on Israel – accusing the state of apartheid. Israel has called upon Amnesty not to publish their findings on February 1st, stating that their work is “false, biased and antisemitic.” Amnesty, together with Human Rights Watch and the Israeli rights group B’Tselem, are accusing Israel of the international crime of apartheid based upon its occupation of the Palestinian lands over a near 55-year period.
Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid has said he anticipates increased international attempts to call Israel an apartheid state, and called Amnesty “just another radical organization which echoes propaganda, without seriously checking the facts.” The International Criminal Court is already investigating potential war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian militants in the occupied territories; Israel has also called the ICC biased.

MEXICO: The human rights defender Digna Ochoa was killed in her offices in Mexico City on 19 October, 2001. The investigation at the time concluded her death was a suicide – “a slap in the face of truth and justice for her and her family.” Her killing and the apathy that followed was not an isolated incident, and Mexico continues to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for human rights defenders. Finally, over 20 years later, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has condemned Mexico for the “serious failings in the investigation of her death.”
The Inter-American Court noted how flawed the investigation was, from the manipulation of evidence to the gender stereotypes used to discredit Digna and her reputation, minimizing the impact of her killing. This case is monumental, but Digna is merely a statistic in Mexico. The government itself has acknowledged that between just December 2018 and September 2021, 95 human rights defenders have been killed – 23 of them women. Unless domestic policy changes radically, these killings are all but guaranteed to continue.

Additional pieces worth a read:
Weaponizing Global Supply Chains Is Unlikely To Alter China’s Uyghur Human Rights Regime
– Forbes
Opinion: The IOC and sponsors of the Beijing Games are complicit in China’s human rights abuses – The Washington Post

Lawmakers stand up to show their support as Japan’s parliament adopts resolution on human rights in China at the lower house of the parliament in Tokyo, Japan. Source: Reuters, Feb 2022

Japanese Parliament’s concern over China’s actions against Tibet, Hong Kong, and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and the condemnation of Sri Lanka’s controversial security act.

Tuesday 1st February, 2022:

JAPAN: Japan’s Parliament has adopted a resolution to tackle the “serious human rights situation” in China, asking the government to take steps to help resolve the crisis. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took office in October and has since he will be blunt about China if necessary. The resolution has expressed concern over China’s treatment of Tibet, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region – especially the restrictions places on their religious freedoms and issues of internment.
In response, China’s Foreign Ministry said the resolution “ignores the facts, maliciously slanders China’s human rights situation, seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations, grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs, and is extremely egregious in nature.”

SRI LANKA: The International Commission of Jurists strongly recommend Sri Lanka repeal a controversial security act enacted by its right-wing government, calling the act “woefully inadequate.” The Prevention of Terrorism Act gives security forces sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects arbitrarily and deprive liberty indefinitely. The International Commission have proposed amendments to include reducing the detention period and allowing a person detained for 12 moths to seek bail.
The UN Human Rights Council in September called for an “immediate moratorium” on the use of this bill, fearing it will be used to target minorities and dissidents. The Council and the EU have condemned the treatment of human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah in particular: he has been imprisoned by the Sri Lankan government under this act since April 2020. (Hizbullah has been detained without bail under the guise of having links to the 2019 Easter Bombings which left more than 250 people dead.)

Additional pieces worth a read:
Six women’s rights activists still missing in Afghanistan – UN News
Kazakhstan: Protesters Arbitrarily Arrested, Beaten – Human Rights Watch

Source: BBC.

Turkey’s continued arbitrary detention of Osman Kavala voted to return to the European Court, and Cambodia’s pending data surveillance legislation will be a human rights disaster.

Wednesday 2nd February, 2022:

TURKEY: The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers voted on February 2nd to begin infringement proceedings against Turkey, based upon their failure to comply with the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment insisting Turkey release human rights defender Osman Kavala. His detention is “politically motivated” and “arbitrary,” thus the Committee voted for the case of Kavala v Turkey to return to the European Court for a “legal opinion on whether Turkey has met its obligations to comply with the judgment.”
If the European Court confirms Turkey’s compliance failure, additional measures will be taken against the state – including potentially suspending Turkey’s voting rights in the Council of Europe and even jeopardizing Turkey’s membership altogether.

CAMBODIA: UN human rights experts have urged Cambodia to halt the implementation of its data surveillance legislation, calling it “repressive” and warning it may “further undermine[…] [the] privacy rights and democratic freedoms in the country.” The ‘Sub-decree on the Establishment of the National Internet Gateway’ will significantly restrict internet freedom, entitling the Cambodian Government to “monitor internet activity, intercept and censor digital communications, and collect, retain and share personal data of users.”
The legislation grants blanket exhaustive powers to the ‘National Internet Gateway’ operators to block sites, switch off internet access, and monitor every site visited. In its current form, the decree infringes upon Articles 17 and 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – a covenant Cambodia is party to. The UN experts are requesting an open dialogue with Cambodia’s legislators to alter the decree and bring it line with fundamental human rights norms.

Additional pieces worth a read:
Afghan women warn European Parliament of the dangers of negotiating with Taliban – The European Parliament Magazine
The EU’s WTO Case Against China Is More Than Just Symbolic – World Politics Review

Fierce fighter for women’s rights: Queen Rania Al-Abdullah. Source: Deutsche Welle, 2022.

Calls for UN intervention after Egypt continues to decimate human rights protections, and Jordan’s constitution includes women for the first time.

Thursday 3rd February, 2022:

EGYPT: 175 parliamentarians from the EU and UK have urged the U.N. Human Rights Council to take action against Egypt for its continued decimation of human rights protection domestically; “[w]e are extremely concerned about the international community’s persistent failure to take any meaningful action to address Egypt’s human rights crisis.” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has arrested and detained countless journalists and activists since rising to power in 2013.
The call for interference comes after the release of Egyptian-Palestinian activist Ramy Shaath and his description of the torture, beatings, and inhumane living conditions he was subjected to. Shaath told the EU parliament on Jan. 26: “Egyptian officers would say many times in prison ‘We are not subject to any law, we can take you, we can kill you, we can bury you, we can torture you, you are ours’.”

JORDAN: The Jordanian government has taken remarkable steps towards its goal of achieving gender equality by 2030 – last week the senate changed Article 6 of the constitution to include men and women explicitly, rather than ‘Jordanians’ without specification. It now reads: “Jordanian men and women shall be equal before the law. There shall be no discrimination between them as regards to their rights and duties on grounds of race, language or religion.” Queen Rania Al-Abdullah is one of the most prominent supporters of this change.
However, a controversial difference between men and women in Jordan persists: women cannot pass down Jordanian citizenship, that right is limited to fathers (as is the case in other Mideast countries). Whilst this is in violation of international human rights law, Sharia law’s heavy influence means this is unlikely to change soon.

Additional pieces worth a read:
Lebanon: Flawed Investigations of Politically-Sensitive Murders – Human Rights Watch
Concerned over civilian deaths, UN spokesperson welcomes ‘any successes’ against ISIL terror group – UN News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: