The Commonwealth Wire


The Commonwealth Wire

Human rights groups ask feds for plan to deal with white supremacy in Canada

8 Oct 2020- A coalition of multifaith human rights organizations urged the prime minister Monday to come up with a plan to dismantle white supremacist groups across the country. The open call to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau comes in wake of the death of a 58-year-old man who was fatally stabbed outside the International Muslim Organization mosque in Toronto last month. The mosque has asked police to investigate the death of Mohamed-Aslim Zafis as a hate crime. The head of the Toronto police homicide squad said last month that while investigators had no immediate evidence the stabbing was motivated by hate, it was a possibility.

Why human rights should guide responses to the global pandemic

6 Oct 2020- What can South Africa's Bill of Rights and international human rights treaties contribute to coronavirus responses and recovery strategies in the country and globally? My central argument is that human rights provide tools to help states build fairer societies and economies. Such societies will be more resilient to future shocks. A human rights-based approach to the pandemic is based on values. It prioritises the most disadvantaged and vulnerable and it is holistic. It also highlights international assistance and cooperation.

People with mental health conditions living in chains

6 Oct 2020- Hundreds of thousands of people with mental health conditions are shackled around the world, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Men, women, and children, some as young as 10, are chained or locked in confined spaces for weeks, months, and even years, in about 60 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. Many are forced to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate in the same tiny area. In state-run or private institutions, as well as traditional or religious healing centers, they are often forced to fast, take medications or herbal concoctions, and face physical and sexual violence. 

What is happening to slaves rescued during the coronavirus lockdown?

Modern slaves will be allowed to stay in safe houses for longer during the coronavirus outbreak. Those supported through the modern slavery victim care contract will be allowed to stay in government-funded safe accommodation for the next three months. Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said: “The safety of modern slavery victims and the frontline staff supporting them remains a top priority. “By taking this decisive action we will ensure that vulnerable people continue to have access to safe accommodation. The Salvation Army, the primary provider of support, is also working with the government to review processes and policy to maintain the services they provide to modern slavery victims during this time.

Bangladesh garment workers demand payment of salaries

Hundreds of garment factory workers held a demonstration on the outskirts of Bangladesh's capital Dhaka on Monday for the second day in a row demanding payment of salaries. Readymade garments are the South Asian nation's main export employing nearly 4 million people, mostly women, who work without any job security. "My family of five fully depends on my income. I sent them all to my village, but stayed back to collect my wages," Mohammad Mohsin, a protester, told Anadolu Agency by phone.

Women activists in Sierra Leone speak out against child pornography

Women’s civil rights organisations in the country have issued a series of press releases condemning child pornography and cyberbullying. Their releases came after a video showing a teenage schoolgirl in her school uniform having sexual intercourse with a boy started circulating on social media platforms. The Asmaa James Foundation, Feminist United and Allies, Female in Sierra Leone and Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social Justice (LAWYERS) are few of the organisations that have so far taken a stand on the said matter. They issued the press release advising every law-abiding citizen to empathise rather than engage in derogatory conversations which will further discriminate and victimises the girl in the video.

Indian garbage collectors battle coronavirus unarmed

India is home to 5 million sanitation workers who clear not just garbage but also sewers and public toilets. For paltry pay, these workers often come in direct contact with human waste, working with little or no equipment and protection. Often informal workers, most of India’s sanitation workers belong to the Dalit community who are often ostracized by the rest of the society, viewed as expendable and relegated to the worst jobs. The situation is particularly dire for so-called manual scavengers – sanitation workers who manually remove human waste from latrines. Scores die each year from asphyxiation and disease. The coronavirus will dramatically increase these numbers, rights workers warn.

Legal experts warn latest legacy proposals incompatible with human rights laws

Proposals to limit legacy investigations in order to protect former British soldiers from “vexatious claims” are incompatible with the UK’s human rights obligations, a new report has warned. Professor Kieran McEvoy of Queen’s University Belfast School of Law has led work by a team of legal experts to scrutinise 11 distinct proposals on dealing with the past, including the controversial proposals unveiled by the UK government last month which, the report concludes, are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the Good Friday Agreement and the Stormont House Agreement. Dr Anna Bryson said: “It is time to finally make good on the promises made to victims and survivors on dealing with the legacy of the past. That can only be done by ensuring that families get the Article 2 compliant investigations to which they are legally entitled.”

Bangladesh locks down a million in Rohingya camps

Bangladesh has imposed a lockdown on a southern district, home to refugee camps housing more than a million Rohingya Muslims fleeing from Myanmar, to prevent the spread of coronavirus. No cases are confirmed in the camps, but aid agencies fear an outbreak could overwhelm poor medical facilities. "Entry and exit from Cox's Bazar district is prohibited from now on," Cox's Bazar district head, Kamal Hossain said in a statement, adding that "stern action" would be taken against those who violated the order. Consequently, the movement of aid workers has also been severely restricted.

Fury in Kenya over police brutality amid coronavirus curfew

The fight against coronavirus has turned violent in Kenya as police officers enforcing a new curfew brutalize citizens. Videos and testimonies have spread throughout social media showing hundreds choking on tear gas and individuals hit with batons in the street, as detailed in an Al-Jazeera report. Police brutality is focused mainly on the poorest areas of major cities. According to The Africa Report, new rules are imposed every day, which is confusing in communities where news used to be spread by word of mouth. Al-Jazeera also described the challenge of low-income communities to purchase essentials while following government guidelines.

Analysis of Funds Collected and Expenditure Incurred by Political Parties during Lok Sabha Elections, 2019

Executive Summary  Political parties are required to submit a statement of election expenditure to the Election Commission within 90 days of completion of General Elections and 75 days of completion of State Assembly elections. The expenditure statement contains details of the total amount received as funds in the form of cash, cheques and demand drafts and the total amount spent under various heads. The expenditure statement contains information on the amount spent on the following heads at the Central Headquarters and State Unit level by the party: o   Publicity o   Travel expenses o   Other expenses o   Expenditure towards candidates Political parties submit these statements providing information of funds collected and spent between announcement and completion of elections. This period could be between 3 weeks to 3 months based on the notification issued by the Election Commission. The focus of this report is the expenditure of National and Regional parties during Lok Sabha 2019 elections (and the Assembly elections to four states – Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha & Sikkim) and analyses the funds received and expenditure incurred by Parties, during the election period of 75 days (10-03-2019 to 23-05-2019). 7 National Parties and 25 Regional Parties have been considered for analysis in this report. Election expenditure statements of 18 Regional parties including DMDK, JD (S), RJD, JKNPP, RLD etc. are unavailable on the website of ECI. The expenditure statements of IUML and SHS are not available for the Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections 2019.

Sierra Leone civil society groups condemn extradition of Henry Costa, as Costa vows to return in May

Civil society groups have issued a statement expressing deep concern about the arrest of Henry P. Costa, the leader of Liberia’s Council of Patriots, who was travelling to the United States of America via Sierra Leone’s international airport. Costa is allegedly wanted by the Liberian government  for leading a nationwide protest last year in Liberia. The groups urge the government of Sierra Leone to reject any extradition request from the Liberian government, as the right to protest is protected under Liberian and international law.

Cameroon police bust child trafficking ring, rescue two children

Cameroon National Gendarmerie has informed that it has bust a child trafficking ring that had been selling children from the country’s South region to buyers in neighbouring Equatorial Guinea. The rescued infants have reunited with the families and are in good health, according to security officials, who added that formal inquiries had been launched to “completely dismantle” any network of child trafficking in the border region.

First LGBTQ-friendly church launched

Guyana’s first “Open and Affirming” Church, was launched two weeks ago under the title “Hope of Christ Anglican Church The United Anglo-Catholic Church.” According to one of the founding members of the church, Dillon Mohamed, the idea to establish such an organisation in Guyana came about during the 2019 LGBT Pride Parade in Georgetown. This is an important step to reconcile the gaps between being Christian and LGBTQ.

Millions go hungry in wealthy Canada - and some die young as a result

Canadians who cannot afford regular meals are more likely to die early, according to a study released on Monday, showing that people are dying from hunger even in wealthy countries. The study of more than half a million Canadian adults found that hunger was linked to raised mortality from all causes of death except cancer. But infectious diseases, unintentional injuries and suicide were twice as likely to kill those who faced severe problems finding enough food as those who do not, said the paper, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. “It’s like we found third-world causes in a first-world country,” lead author Fei Men, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Papua New Guinea defends human rights efforts following damning NGO report

Papua New Guinea's government has defended its efforts to protect human rights. This follows a damning international NGO report into the state of human rights in PNG. Human Rights Watch's annual summary on PNG says little was done in the past year to tackle corruption, police abuses and domestic violence. Its Deputy Director for Asia, Phil Robertson, said that despite a change of prime minister in PNG last year, progress on human rights had still been too slow. Forty percent of the population still lives in poverty, and this is a very resource rich country. "Twenty-five percent of the children are not in school, and our estimate was one in thirteen have died of preventable disease." But PNG's Justice Minister and Attorney-General, Davis Steven, said he was concerned the NGO had ignored various efforts on human rights by a new government which was working to usher in reforms.

High Court: Form commission to stop rape, violence against women

The High Court has asked the government to form a commission within 30 days under the Law Ministry in order to stop rape and violence against women. The HC bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahsan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader passed the order on Sunday following a writ hearing filed in the form of public interest litigation (PIL).  The bench ordered constitution of the commission, led by an additional secretary of the ministry, comprising representatives from lawyers, judges, human rights activists, renowned personalities, media persons, physicians, and victims if any victim agrees.  

Commonwealth solidarity offers benefits to Africa, Buhari declares

President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that a renewed sense of Commonwealth solidarity offers enormous benefits to Africans in the Diaspora, especially those resident in Britain, Canada and Australia. He said the communities still maintain the strongest of cultural and family links with the countries from which they and their forebears emigrated. Buhari, who based his opinion on the impending United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (EU), said: “The UK’s exit from the EU is now all but certain. Only time will reveal what its new relationship shall be. But with this new arrangement, I-like many other Commonwealth leaders–also seek a new settlement: Not only of closer relations between the UK and Nigeria, but of unleashing trade within the club in which we shall remain together.

Nigerian children rescued from human traffickers in Ivory Coast

Authorities in Ivory Coast have rescued 137 children who were trafficked to the country to work on cocoa plantations or as sex workers. The children were rescued during a two-day search of cars, farms and nearby villages by the Ivory Coast Police in the eastern town of Aboisso. The children ranged from ages six to 17 were brought into Ivory Coast from Nigeria, Ghana, Niger, Benin, and Togo.

Human Rights Watch criticises Australia’s media raids

Human Rights Watch said Australia’s national security laws had a “chilling effect” on journalists and their sources and the nation’s “overly broad” national security laws could be misused. The raids caused an inquiry by the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security, which is due to hand down its findings in the next few months into the effect of national security laws on Australia’s press freedoms. Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson said: “The government seems intent on sending a message to officials not to share information with journalists.”

Human rights group alleges “brutal, unlawful” state execution process in Changi Prison

Allegations concerning the “brutal” and “unlawful” process of execution by hanging in Changi Prison have surfaced in a statement by Malaysian human rights organisation Lawyers For Liberty. Citing an unnamed former Singapore Prison Services (SPS) officer’s account, LFL advisor N Surendran said that the former officer and other prison officers were “instructed to carry out the following brutal procedure whenever the rope breaks during a hanging, which happens from time to time. The group points out that such treatment breaches article 9 of the constitution 

Human rights defenders demand anti-corruption bureau to reveal suspects names

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) says it will hold demonstrations tomorrow to demand Anti-corruption Bureau Director General Reyneck Matemba to reveal the names of the people who wanted to bribe Constitutional Court judges. National Chairperson for the grouping Timothy Mtambo said that they will present their petition to the ACB Director asking him to reveal the names.He added that if Matemba fails to mention the names of the people who were trying to bribe the judges, the grouping will push for his resignation.