The Commonwealth Wire


India-born activist calls on UN to end caste discrimination

A prominent India-born rights activist and founder of a US-based NGO has urged the UN leadership to work towards ending caste discrimination by 2030. During his address at the commemorative event, Mhaske had said that technological advances in the world will become inclusive only when citizens from all backgrounds are allowed to share in its opportunities.

Canadian Human Rights Commission says children left behind on basic rights

The Canadian Human Rights Commission says more attention must be paid to the rights of children, who it says are being left behind when it comes to basic rights of dignity, safety, education and family.T he agency said it aimed to shine a light on the problems of children in its 2016 annual report to Parliament, released Wednesday.

Kenya's pastoralists look beyond patriarchy to property rights for women

Traditionally, among the pastoral Kipsigis and Maasai communities, men are the decision-makers and managers of land and stock. But over-grazing and the sub-division and privatisation of land and its transfer to agricultural use has forced herder communities to accept and adopt new land strategies, including applying for security of tenure and women in land transfer and inheritance.

HRW: Suspend military sales to Saudi Arabia

The Australian government should immediately halt military sales to Saudi Arabia following numerous unlawful Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Human rights of Sonshi villagers violated

A complaint has been filed with the Goa State Human Rights Commission on Tuesday. The complaint highlights the fact that over 350 residents of Sonshi in Sattari have been denied fresh air and water for the past few months due to the ongoing mining ore transportation.

Opinion: Human rights and detention of the mentally ill

It is estimated that 16 percent of the population of Bangladesh suffer from mental disorders. Bangladesh has no mechanism for supervision and protection of the rights of patients with mental disorders. Less than 0.5 percent of the governmental health budget is spent on mental health, one of the lowest allocations in the world.

'Dangerously overcrowded' prison risk closure

Prisoners in Karonga feel unsafe and are at kept at seriously overcrowded degrading inhuman and life threatening conditions, officials have confirmed. This was revealed on Sunday when a district business tycoon, Leonard Kiyombo visited the cells and donated assorted items worth K500,000.

Armidale Class Act: A right to defend our rights

Last year, Australia was visited by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defence. While the final report of this visit is not available yet, the preliminary report argues that every individual in Australia has the right to defend human rights for all. It is the responsibility of the state to ensure that not only can everyone be advocates, but that throughout their lives they all are able to enjoy rights and freedoms.

LGBTQ activists in Caribbean ask Canada for support, not salvation

Canada should remember that as it promotes LGBTQ rights on the world stage, it should also listen to — and support — those fighting on the ground. This was the message that Jason Jones, from Trinidad and Tobago, and Nigel Mathlin, from Grenada, brought to a meeting with officials at Global Affairs Canada this week, as they shared their views on how the Liberal government could support them and other LGBTQ activists in the Caribbean region.

Amnesty International honours Canada’s Indigenous-rights movement

Canada’s Indigenous-rights movement has been named a recipient of a prestigious award from Amnesty International, drawing attention to persistent inequality in one of the world’s wealthiest countries. In announcing the award, Amnesty underlined the fact that although they live in a prosperous country, Canada’s Indigenous peoples are “consistently among the most marginalized members of society.”

St Lucia police said to still be committing human rights abuses

A former Saint Lucia government minister claimed last week that officers of the Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) are still engaged in human rights abuses, despite the fact that in 2013 the United States imposed sanctions against the island’s security forces following a number of unresolved extrajudicial killings by the police.

MP introduces bill targeting forced human organ harvesting

Garnett Genuis, MP, is targeting China’s alleged practice of taking organs from criminals and political dissidents in re-introducing a private-member’s bill once proposed by former Liberal Irwin Cotler. Bill C-561 would also deny entry into Canada for foreigners who participate in these types of transplants.

Legislative reforms for child protection must continue

The Malaysian Bar welcomes the passing of the Sexual Offences against Children Act 2017 by the Dewan Rakyat in the recently concluded Parliament session. This new law marks progress for child protection in Malaysia by bringing our laws closer in line with international standards, and towards fulfilling our obligations as a State Party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Human rights group petitions against Dolezal visit

A local human rights group has started a petition to stop US race activist Rachel Dolezal from speaking at a South African anti-racism event. Dolezal, who is known for identifying as being black despite being born white, is expected to visit the country to talk about her experience.

Offshore detention may hurt Australia’s bid for UN Human Rights Council seat

Controversies over abuses in Australia’s offshore detention regime could harm its multimillion-dollar bid for a seat on the UN’s Human Rights Council. Nauru whistleblowers have told a global women’s event in New York that Australia should be blocked from winning a seat on the influential UN body, because of systemic physical and sexual abuse in the island camps, and the international law violations of its indefinite detention regime.

Zambian human rights body calls for dialogue among key political players

Zambia’s human rights body on Tuesday called on key political players in the country to embrace dialogue in order to curb continued human rights violations. The Human Rights Commission (HRC) said the prevailing political animosity between the country’s two main political parties, was endangering the maintenance of law and order and perpetuating infringement on people’s rights.

RTI Coalition demands Government’s action on Right To Informational bill

The Coalition on the Right to Information, Ghana has called on government to expedite action towards the passage of the RTI Bill. The Coalition’s call was made in a 6 point resolution adopted at a General meeting held on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at the Press Centre to discuss the Coalition’s activities and review strategies to promote the passage of an effective Right to Information legislation in Ghana.

African envoys demand visible deterring measures, threaten to take attack issue to Human Rights Council

African Heads of Mission have strongly condemned last week's attack on Nigerian nationals in Greater Noida, calling it "xenophobic and racial in nature," and are considering taking the matter to international human rights bodies for an independent investigation if the government fails to take legal action against the perpetrators or "sufficient or visible deterring measures" to avoid a repeat of such incidents.

Ex- Mashgiach takes cor to human rights tribunal

A former food supervisor (mashgiach) with the Kashruth Council of Canada is taking his ex-employer before the Ontario Human Rights Commission on an allegation of age discrimination. Sam Amar, 65, who worked for the Kashruth Council (known as COR) for 28 years, alleges he was let go in May 2016 as a cost-saving measure.

Investigate killing of two in Nairobi’s Eastleigh says Human Rights Watch

On Saturday, Kenyan social media exploded after a video circulated, apparently showing police fatally shooting an alleged gang member. The graphic video shows one young man lying in a pool of blood as uniformed police officers push back the crowd, and at the same time an armed man shoots another unarmed man at point blank range. The video, filmed in Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighbourhood, is a stark reminder of the need for the forces of law enforcement to be accountable.

UN to review Ghana on human rights in November

Ghana will in November be reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism by the UN Human Rights Council on the performance on its human rights situations. The Council reviewed Ghana previously and made over 140 recommendations. In November, Ghana would be peered reviewed on the following thematic reports including access to justice and right to life, freedom of expression and women’s and children’s rights.

UK puts UN human rights council 'on notice' after continued anti-Israel activity

The United Kingdom’s delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) announced Friday that it will vote against all future anti-Israel resolutions if the council persists in its disproportionate focus on the Jewish state. Last week’s UNHRC resolutions concerning Israel were imbalanced and unfair, the British diplomatic team said. While Her Majesty’s government itself had criticisms for the Israeli government, they noted that the world “must also recognise the continuing terrorism, incitement and violence that Israel faces…Neither ‘terrorism’ nor ‘incitement’ were a focus of this week’s Council discussions and resolutions. This is not acceptable.”

'Freedom of speech key to democracy'

Addressing students at a training programme on 'Human right awareness', organised by School of Law and Governance, Central University of South Bihar here on Sunday, national convenor of Lok Samiti K G Anand said freedom of speech and expression is a must to have a healthy democratic process in the country. The programme was sponsored by National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi.

Tanzanian albino children, attacked for body parts, seek care in U.S.

Four Tanzanian children with albinism, who lost limbs in brutal superstition-driven attacks, arrived in the United States on Saturday for medical treatment and respite from a homeland where they are persecuted and feared.

Opinion: What Australia needs to ask when China visits

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will land in Australia for an official visit later this week. On the eve of his visit, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop delivered an unusually sharp warning to China on its need to move towards democracy. Chinese authorities are cracking down harshly on civil society groups and democracy activists, with many now languishing in prison for peaceful dissent, like Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti.

Human rights agency calls emergency hearing on concerns under Trump administration

A pan-American commission will hold an emergency hearing in Washington to investigate the impact of U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive orders on human rights in the country. Tuesday’s hearing by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was prompted by the requests from advocacy groups in Canada and the United States to review what they called “ongoing and deteriorating” conditions faced by asylum-seekers and other migrants under the Trump administration.

Human rights still a bridge too far

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) on Tuesday said basic human rights still remain “a bridge too far” for many fellow South Africans and likewise our African counterparts. “Fedusa believes that basic human rights still remain a bridge too far for many fellow South Africans and likewise our continental African counterparts who remain trapped in hunger, domestic violence, dread diseases, rural poverty, xenophobic attacks and poverty wages.”

Whanganui river in New Zealand awarded human rights

A river in New Zealand has been granted the same legal rights as a human in an effort to enshrine the waterway’s ancestral status of a local Māori tribe. The country’s parliament granted the legal rights to the river, which lies some 445km south of Auckland, on Wednesday.

Arrest of women's rights advocate prompts social media warning from JCF

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) last evening warned social media users to be responsible in their use of the various platforms and to be mindful of the law. The warning comes on the heels of the arrest and charge of Latoya Nugent, co-founder of women’s advocacy group Tambourine Army, under the Cybercrimes Act.

Councillors move separate motions on same-sex marriage

Deputy mayor Steve Toms and Cr Lillian O’Connor moved the motions amid spirited debate with some councillors arguing that it was not the place of council to take a stance. Cr Toms, who has previously described himself as a proud openly gay man, said polls indicated that 70 percent of Australians supported same sex marriage.

Rights group reveals Ugandan forces killed many, and even kids

More than 155 people died in deadly encounters last year between Ugandan forces and people loyal to a tribal king who has since been charged with treason, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday, urging an independent investigation into the killings that shocked this East African country.

Nigeria's bishops call on government to defend human rights

At a recent meeting, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria gave a bleak summary of the state of their country, lamenting humanitarian crises including violence at the hands of Boko Haram and other extremist groups, poverty, government corruption, and a lack of respect for human rights or dignity.

Draft resolutions requests full implementation of UNHRC resolution

A follow-up draft resolution titled ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ had been submitted to the ongoing 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by five main sponsor nations on Monday requesting the Government of Sri Lanka to fully implement the measures identified in UNHRC resolution 30/1 of 1 October 2015.

Oxfam Nigeria advocates equal access to land for women

At the commemoration of the 2017 International Women Day (IWD) across the globe last week, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), Oxfam Nigeria, while appraising the poverty index of women in Nigeria, re-emphasised its earlier position that women’s deprivation of access to land has a significant contribution to their poverty level. Citing the United Nations (UN) Report that ranked Nigeria high in terms of gender inequality, Oxfam specifically pinpointed lack of access to land allocation as a major indicator.

Fiji defers candidacy for UN Human Rights Council

Fiji is putting off its run for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. In October the government said it planned to seek a seat on the council during the 2018 to 2020 term. In a speech today however the Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said Fiji was a small country and its foreign policy resources needed to be focused on climate change and its presidency of COP23.

Scotland's disabled people's human rights highlighted at UN

The United Nations has been told more must be done to protect the rights of disabled people in Scotland. It comes after the UN warned that UK government welfare reforms had led to "grave and systematic" violations of disabled people's human rights.

Empowering youth through human rights education

Commonwealth Youth Human Rights and Democracy Network (CYHRDN), Commonwealth Secretariat, organised a day long workshop on “Empowering Youth through Human Rights Education” in partnership with Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI). The workshop held on March 4, 2017 at ASA University Bangladesh.

App takes human rights education to Nigerians

The fear many Nigerians exhibit when they have any form of contact with law enforcement agents has inspired a human rights/international law expert to launch #KnowYourRightsNigeria app. Adeola Oyinlola, who is also a UN Peace Ambassador, says the app is meant to raise awareness about human rights issues, as well as help provide users with access to legal services on a pro bono basis.