Around the Commonwealth
Compiled by Vaishali Mishra
Media Officer, CHRI
discrimination in the police force has been rampant in Canada
with the police forces refusing to file cases of missing
persons of indigenous races. Amnesty International terms
this as a gross violation of human rights and has chronicled
cases where the police failed to file cases even after the
mandatory 48 hours of the person going missing. In most
of these cases parents put out posters without any help
from the local authorities.
a family member of 16-year-old Felicia Solomon who went
missing in early 2003, "When something happens to someone
else's child, whether they are white or from any other kind
of race or culture, the police do everything. It's completely
different when an Indian person goes missing."
women in Fiji are being tested for HIV/AIDS and other sexually
transmitted diseases without their consent. A number of
officials from within the Health Ministry admitted to the
news website 'Village News' that women are being tested
for HIV/AIDS without consent, but refused to divulge further
woman, pleading anonymity, said she was outraged to discover
that tests were conducted without her being informed. She
has threatened to take the matter up with the Fiji Human
Human Rights activists across the country have termed the
incident as a violation of basic human rights to conduct
tests without consent.
1,000 people have been murdered in Jamaica since 1 January
2004. At least nine police officers have been charged with
murder. In 2003 members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force
killed at least 113 people.
Rights activists remain concerned at the frequent reports
of killings by members of the security forces, many of which
appear to constitute extra-judicial executions, and by very
high reported rates of violent crime.
Chief of Staff of the Jamaican Defense Force in a statement
to Amnesty International assured the international community
that human rights abuses by his soldiers would not be tolerated
and that all allegations of abuses would be thoroughly investigated.
though the government of the Maldives has released 62 people
who were arrested after mass pro-democracy demonstrations,
human rights activists expressed grave concerns on the plight
of the 8 demonstrators who are still under detention. All
are detained without charge or access to lawyers, and their
family visits are severely restricted.
government has persistently alleged that the prisoners were
involved in criminal activity during the demonstrations,
but has not produced any credible evidence to
of child trafficking in New Zealand in the form of sex trade
has increased over the past one year admit the police. The
Human Rights Commission has received a number of telephone
calls from health personnel reporting incidents of Thai
girls, less than 18 years of age, seeking medical attention,
who had been subjected to sexual violence. However, by the
time the Police have become involved it has been discovered
that the addresses given are false or the girls have been
moved to a new location.
Police say it is difficult to protect witnesses who are
returned to their own country. Current policy in New Zealand
is to return the trafficked person to his or her own country
as soon as possible. As a result, many victims will not
agree to provide evidence, for fear of the repercussions
from the traffickers that they, or their family, will experience
when they return home.
security agents have raided the offices of two independent
publications confiscating equipment and arresting editorial
staff. The publications in question are the "Global
Star" and the "Insider Weekly" who have been
accused by the state of "attacking, disparaging and
humiliating" the Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
and other "notable people in the government."
to a report by Human Rights Watch, human rights activists
and journalists have borne the brunt of the government's
crackdown, including harassment by the police, physical
assaults and attempts at censorship on several occasions.
South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), a platform of
journalists of the region, plans to organise a hunger strike
at the time of the next South Asian Association for Regional
Cooperation (SAARC) summit to be held in Dhaka demanding
that the `right to information' be included on the agenda
at the meeting.
right to know should be an agenda at the SAARC meeting to
be held in January next. We have already prepared the draft
proposal and made representations to different governments.
We may go for a hunger strike if our demand is not met,"
said Mr. Imtiaz Alam, SAFMA Secretary General.
Lankan Tamil separatists LTTE, alledgedly gunned down reporter
Iyer Balanadarajah, of the Tamil weekly Thinamurasu. The
newspaper had reportedly been harassed by the LTTE. This
is the second assassination of a journalist in Sri Lanka
in the year 2004.
court in Tonga ruled that the Media Operators Act 2003 and
the Newspapers Act 2003 would be void. This landmark ruling
is being hailed as a victory to the freedom of the press
in the Kingdom affirming that a basic human right such as
freedom of expression cannot be legislated against in a
"The historic ruling now clears the way for newspapers
and periodicals that have been banned by these legislations
to be distributed again in the kingdom to give the public
more access to information and to comment freely,"
said Faumuina Lance Polu, President, Pacific Islands News
International is calling for a full and independent inquiry
into the deaths of at least ten people since 2nd September
2004 at Porta Farm, an informal settlement on the outskirts
police, "war veterans" and members of the youth
"militia" reportedly went to Porta Farm to forcibly
evict some 10,000 people, many of whom have been living
there since 1991. The police were acting in defiance of
a court order prohibiting the eviction. According to eyewitness
testimony, the police fired tear gas directly into the homes
of the Porta Farm residents. Firing tear gas into a confined
space is completely contrary to international human rights
standards on the use of force by law enforcement officials
because of the danger posed to those exposed.
Newsletter, Winter 2004
Mishra & Clare
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Acknowledgement: Many thanks to all contributors
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