The Commonwealth Wire


Human rights group welcomes postponement of debate on “Spy Bill”

The Grand Bahamas Human Rights Association (GBHRA) has welcomed a decision by the Perry Christie government to postpone debate on the controversial Interception of Communications Bill (ICB) saying “the decision marks the dawn of a great new day for civil society and public interest activism in the Bahamas.

Edmonton woman wants size discrimination included in Human Rights Act

Connie Levitsky is petitioning the NDP government to rewrite the provincial Human Rights Act to protect overweight Albertans from discrimination. Levitsky made international headlines last April when she was fired from plus-sized women's retailer Addition Elle in Edmonton, for writing an online post about her experience helping "fat ladies," like herself, find clothing.

A space for LGBTIQ youths

The Fiji Constitution which was promulgated in 2013 bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The Employment Relations Promulgation 2007 bans discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. The anti-hate speech law bans references to sexual orientation or gender identity.

Human smuggling and trafficking in Pakistan

Pakistan is a source, transit, and destination country for an increasing number of trafficked persons. Women and children are trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation, bonded labour, and domestic servitude to and from East Asian countries and Bangladesh through Pakistan to the Middle East.

ActionAid Ghana implements women’s empowerment rights project

About 6,000 rural women in eight districts in Ghana are to benefit from “women empowerment and rights project” to help reduce unpaid care work and to improve economic self-reliance of rural women. The project is also to help improve women’s participation in politics and to increase their food security.

Amnesty Report on Human Rights - Africa 2016/2017

Mass protests, movements, and mobilization – often articulated and organized through social media – swept the continent in 2016. Protesters and human rights defenders repeatedly found inspiring ways to stand up against repression and campaigns such as the #oromoprotests in Ethiopia, #EnforcedDisappearancesKE in Kenya and #ThisFlag in Zimbabwe.

Government and UN collaborate on IDPs legal rights

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Maslami (SAN) has said that his office is working with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) to improve access to justice for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Patience Jonathan sues EFCC for alleged rights violation

Formeer First Lady Mrs. Patience Johnathan has sued the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for freezing her bank accounts and those of her relatives by the anti-graft agency as it was a violation of her rights to fair hearing and to own property.

Why a top Indian activist is facing threats to her life

A leading Indian activist has been facing threats to her life in the Maoist-affected central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The BBC Hindi's Vineet Khare profiles Bela Bhatia, the latest in a series of activists, lawyers and journalists who have come under pressure to leave the state.

SL must have foreign judges in war crime probe: HRW

Sri Lanka must employ international judges and prosecutors to ensure accountability during trials of those responsible for alleged war crimes against mostly Tamils, Human Rights Watch Australia's director Elaine Pearson has told SBS News on Friday.

Students stormed human rights commission over Sheikh Zakzaky's detention

The group protested the prolonged detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) popularly known as Shiites Ibrahim El-Zakzaky as well as the detention of some students who were arrested by security operatives and remanded in Kano Prison.The prominent cleric and his wife were taken into custody in December last year, after deadly clashes between the supporters of the IMN movement and Nigerian troops.

Scale up HIV/AIDS programmes behind bars

Jamaica has made attempts to expand its HIV/AIDS programme in prisons, but these efforts need to be sustained if the gains made are to be lasting. At a time where there is a small window of opportunity to benefit from the little international funding that is still available for HIV/AIDS programmes, the Government should seek to tap into this funding and direct it towards correctional facilities.

Human rights within Good Friday deal 'must get Brexit protection'

Human rights protections contained within the 1998 Good Friday agreement are “inviolable” and cannot be tampered with due to Brexit, Ireland’s foreign minister has warned. Speaking before meeting Britain’s Northern Ireland secretary in Dublin on Tuesday, Charlie Flanagan cautioned against moves by the British government to dilute the human rights element of the agreement.

NHRC to organise two-day seminar on bonded labour

The National Human Rights Commission will discuss the prevalence of bonded labour and challenges involved in its elimination during a two-day seminar here. The ‘National Seminar on Bonded Labour’, starting tomorrow, is being organised after the rights body received a spate of complaints on the issue.

Human rights violated at Beggar Home

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has cited serious human rights violations in a report to deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on the condition of Beggar Home in Nirmal Chhaya Complex.

Lagos government charges Nigerian army on human rights defence

In furtherance of its resolve to rid domestic violence, rape, sexual violence, child abuse, maltreatment and neglect out of the State, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), at the weekend embarked on an engagement initiative with officers of the Army.

Australia just made a signification advance in the protection of human rights

 The government’s recent announcement that it intends to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Crual, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – otherwise known as OPCAT, and is the most significant advance in the protection of human rights in Australia since they set up the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights some years ago.

Top UN body tells India: Stop political, government interference in NHRC

An authoritative report to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) by OHCHR’s affiliate, Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutes (GANHRI), has created flutter by recommending that accreditation to India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) should be deferred till November 2017.

Human rights lawyers concern about civil liberties in India

The threat to civil liberties in India is very serious but there is also a lot of resistance against this threat in the country, according to one of India’s leading human rights lawyers. “In India, the threat to civil liberties is very, very serious. There is a determined effort to silence those who will oppose. We need to have alliances globally because fascism comes in different forms, Vrinda Grover said. 

Human Rights Commission needed now for British Columbians

With hate speech incidents rising in B.C. on the heels of Donald Trump’s executive order against Muslim travellers, it is time to re-establish the B.C. Human Rights Commission, says New Democrat Leader John Horgan. “B.C. is currently the only province in Canada without a Human Rights Commission.”

FGM is a violation of human rights

During a conference at the Miatta Conference Centre on Monday, Human Rights Commissioner Brima A. Sheriff said FGM is a violation of the human rights of women and girls and that it cannot be separated from the deep-seated and pervasive discrimination against women.

Internet shutdowns persist

Since Cameroon has instituted restrictions on Internet access on 17 January, the Internet has been continuously inaccessible. Meanwhile, protests have led to mass arrests and what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called "excessive force" used by Cameroonian law enforcement against protesters. 

HRW: Australia should speak out about China’s legal system

An Australian parliamentary committee recommended – “with caveats” – that the Australian government ratify an extradition treaty with China. The caveats include “taking into account the current state of China’s judicial system,” and “an undertaking by China to provide a fair trial” to anyone extradited by Australia.

Ottawa faces new legal challenge of arms exports to Saudi Arabia

Lawyer Daniel Turp says he will appeal a Jan. 24 federal court decision barring judicial review of the Canadian government’s exports of heavily-armed Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia. The legal challenge would create a new obstacle that could block the controversial deal from proceeding as planned.

Masood briefs EU lawmakers on rights violations in Kashmir

Azad Jammu Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan accompanied by Pakistan’s Ambassador to EU, Mrs Naghmana A. Hashmi, held meetings with Members of European Parliament Jean Lambert, and Gianni Pittella, briefing them on continued human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir.

AI asks Kenyan government to return British journalist

The Kenyan government has been asked to halt its crackdown on media freedom and other violations of human rights and to allow the release and return of Jerome Starkey. The British journalist was detained on the spot two months ago in the government’s attempt to squash the right to freedom of expression and media.

Tuvalu lauded for human rights focus

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community says Tuvalu is leading the way in the Pacific by establishing a national plan on human rights. Tuvalu's Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga spearheaded the plan, which aims to enshrine human rights in the country's development priorities.

NGOs call on EU to reject proposals to reinstate GSP+ to Sri Lanka

A group of NGOs and individuals have called on the European Parliament to reject the EU Commission’s proposal to restore the GSP+ trade preference status to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was suspended from the preferential tariff in August 2010 in response to the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.

Fox's secretive Tory trade deals put health and human rights at risk

Amidst serious concerns on human rights, public health and rule of law, the government has ushered in a controversial EU-Canada free trade agreement, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), under the cloak of darkness and amidst serious concerns on human rights, public health and rule of law.

Tuvalu lauded for human rights focus

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community says Tuvalu is leading the way in the Pacific by establishing a national plan on human rights. Tuvalu's Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga spearheaded the plan, which aims to enshrine human rights in the country's development priorities.

Legal tangle: Pakistan’s children await creation of rights watchdog

As a trial court continues proceedings over the case of a child who was working at the house of a sessions judge in the capital where she was tortured, rights activists hope that a national watchdog protecting rights of children soon comes into force to clampdown on that and other such abuses meted out to children.