The Commonwealth Wire


Rapists in prison for decades get human rights hearing at United Nations

The cases of two long-jailed sex offenders are due to go under the spotlight at the United Nations human rights committee in October. The committee has invited Wellington lawyer Tony Ellis and a government representative to Geneva for a rare chance to speak about the cases of two men serving preventive detention terms. Allan Brian Miller was sentenced to the open-ended term of preventive detention 26 years ago, and Michael John Carroll was sentenced 29 years ago. Both have multiple rape convictions, and both are still in prison. Their arguments about the independence of the Parole Board, and the way preventive detention is served, have already been through the New Zealand court system.

Dell EMC boss backs push for LGBTI rights

Dell EMC’s president Enterprise APJ David Webster used the vendor’s annual Sydney talkfest to show support for the rights of the LGBTI community in Australia. As the debate over diversity and human rights issues such as gay marriage continues to rage across the country, Webster encouraged attendees to participate in the postal vote on same-sex marriage later in the year.

India plans to deport thousands of Rohingya refugees

Human Rights Watch (HRW) South Asia chief criticises the government plan to send back an estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims back to Myanmar, including those registered with a UN agency. Deputy Interior Minister Kiren Rijiju has said that India is not a signatory to the accord on refugees, argues the 40,000 are illegal immigrants with no basis to live in India, and must be deported. HRW South Asia slammed the plan, noting that India as a member of the UN Human Rights Council was aware of the risks Rohingya refugees faced if deported.

Opinion: Does Canada Deserve Its World-Class Reputation On Human Rights

On August 14-15, 2017, the eyes of the world will turn to Canada as the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reviews its record on combating racial discrimination. Many of the NGOs hope that the CERD Committee will call on Canada to develop and implement a new National Action Plan on Racism to address systemic racial issues and to facilitate the collection of disaggregated data across all government departments.

Nigeria: Long overdue judicial commission to probe human rights violations is set up

Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria welcomed the setting up of the judicial commission and its mandate to investigate alleged acts of violation of human rights by Nigeria’s security agencies. Although the judicial commission is  described as long overdue it is also said to be an opportunity to finally bring justice to victims of human rights violations across parts of Nigeria affected by conflicts

Child Trafficking- an unending plight

Economic deprivation and other reasons including make child trafficking a profitable business. Exploiting children’s vulnerability in addition to porous borders with Bangladesh and Nepal make India a hub for child trafficking.

Human rights activist wants law to protect house-girls

The Executive Director of Facilitation for Peace and Development, Eunice Apio Otuko, has requested government to put in place a law that ensures the safety and welfare of house-girls.  She argued that most house girls were working under undesirable conditions, which increased their vulnerability and also exposed them to human traffickers.

Landlord under fire for rejecting woman because of her ethnicity

The Fiji Humans Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission has condemned the alleged action of a landlord in refusing a woman to rent his Nadi flat because of her ethnicity.  Commission director Ashwin Raj deplored the incident, saying discrimination of any kind was against the law of the country.

Making Transgender Rights a Reality in India

“While there is no shame in being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex or even straight,” says Ramesh Bais, a member of parliament from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, “there is most certainly shame and dishonor in being a homophobe, a transphobe and a bigot.”  This strong public acknowledgement of the LGBT community, long marginalized in India, introduces and sets the tone for a new report on transgender rights by parliament’s Social Justice and Empowerment Committee. The report, presented to parliament last week, examines a draft bill on transgender rights – the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill – introduced in parliament in August last year.

UN notes not enough progress in Sri Lanka on rights issue

The United Nations (UN) noted that Sri Lanka has not made enough progress on addressing human rights issues and the issue on missing persons was a concern. UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in New York that during his recent visit to Sri Lanka Jeffrey Feltman, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, had also discussed the matter with the Government.

Rwandan artists, journalists mobilised on child rights protection

Rwandan journalists and artists are undergoing specialized short training on understanding the protection of children rights just as they are involved in campaigns on violence against children.  Organised by Rwanda Civil Society Human rights organizations Umbrella (CLADHO) for the Child Rights Coalition, the training has brought together 30 artists and journalists.

Right to Information Bill must be passed now

Many years down the lane, Ghana is still struggling to pass the Right to Information (RTI) Bill. This bill, which will ensure enhanced transparency in the governance process, has remained on the drawing board and all efforts to get it passed into law continue to be a mirage.  The right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognised as a right under international conventions on human rights.

Human rights team visits Darjeeling

An Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) team arrived in strife torn Darjeeling Hills on Thursday. APDR members after visiting ground zero have expressed concerns over alleged human rights violation issues in the Hills.

Rate of Human Trafficking in Nigeria alarming – Ekweremadu

The Deputy President of the Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, on Thursday decried the high rate of human trafficking in Nigeria and called for concerted efforts to end the scourge. Relying on recent statistics by the Global Slavery Index, he said that the no fewer than 875,500 humans trafficked per annum was worrisome.

Africa’s Land Commissions commit to securing community land rights

The regional workshop with African Land Commissions on securing community land rights ended in Accra, Ghana, Wednesday with participants committing to advancing policy, legal and regulatory reforms in their respective countries and ensure their effective implementation in order to recognise community land rights.

Rights Commission condemns Mkapa over 'name calling'

The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) has condemned former President Benjamin Mkapa's remarks in which he labelled those holding different opinion against the government are fools and loafers. A statement released by CHRGG chairman Bahame Nyanduga said former President's remarks were against the right of every citizen to express his/her opinions.

Government trashes HRW report

The Minister for Justice Johnston Busingye has trashed the recently released Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that made allegations of extrajudicial killings in the country. He described the report by Human Rights Watch as an attempt to seek attention and said the organisation had been deliberately fooled when developing the report.