Human Rights

Repatriated women arrested

Two Ontario women were arrested on terrorism allegations today after returning to Canada from Kurdish-run camps in Syria where Islamic State suspects have been held for years. RCMP want them post peace bonds which could require them to wear ankle bracelets and participate in a deradicalization program. Their repatriation brings to seven the number of women who have returned from the camps but so far only one has been charged with terrorism-related offences. [node:read-more:link]

Ghurkas' deportation on hold

A plan to deport 13 Ghurka security guards who guarded the British embassy in Kabul until their withdrawal to Britain in 2021 were told today that their removal to Nepal and India is on hold pending a review. Some had Home Office permission to live indefinitely in Britain but 10 were detained last week and held in immigration centres near airports, a move which resulted in widespread criticism and raised the possibility of legal action. [node:read-more:link]

Canadians returning from Syria

Six women and and 13 children are returning to Canada from detention in Kurdish-run camps in Syria, their Ottawa lawyer said April 4. “It's what we’ve been trying to do for the last three years,” he said, noting that the women were not charged with anything despite alleged Islamic State ties. Meanwhile, a Toronto lawyer says other women and children remain in the camps. [node:read-more:link]

Dissent in government caucus

Toronto Liberal MP Salma Zahid is criticizing what she says is the government’s “bland” response to Israeli police tactics in Jerusalem. “Either we stand for human rights or we don’t,” she said after police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque April 4. Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly’s office “strongly” condemned the “violence against Palestinian worshippers” and said “the sanctity and status quo of holy sites must be respected.” [node:read-more:link]

Female UN workers Talibanned

The UN says its female employees throughout Afghanistan have been ordered by the Taliban to stop reporting to their offices for at least 48 hours. Calling it “a disturbing trend,” a UN official says talks with local authorities were scheduled for today to discuss how the seemingly temporary decision will affect operations. [node:read-more:link]

Georgia abandons “Russian” bill

The government of the former Soviet republic of Georgia has “unconditionally” abandoned a legislative plan to register “foreign agents” after violent public protests. Critics likened the measure to a Russian law that President Vladimir Putin has used to crush dissent for more than a decade and said it could undermine Georgia’s hopes of EU membership. [node:read-more:link]

Amnesty laments “double standard”

A report today from London-based Amnesty International says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed the “double standards” of human rights internationally. In its report on 156 countries, it says the West’s tough response to Russia is in stark contrast to a “deafening silence” on abuses elsewhere. [node:read-more:link]

Netanyahu not quite backing down

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that he would delay judicial changes which continue to be the focus of widespread public protests. The concession came after National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir expressed a willingness to postpone a parliamentary vote. Netanyahu suggested he was motivated by the “possibility of preventing a civil war through dialogue,” but Ben-Gvir said “the reform will pass” eventually. [node:read-more:link]

New official languages controversy

Draft amendments the Official Languages Act, introduced by the government 13 months ago as Bill C13 and still before a House committee, is raising concerns about how it could affect minority English-language rights in Quebec. The main point of contention is a reference to the province’s Charter of the French Language and how it could further entrench use of the notwithstanding clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights. [node:read-more:link]

Israel’s top lawyer challenges PM

Israeli Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today that his involvement in plans to overhaul the country’s fourts is an illegal conflict of interest. “You must refrain from […] initiatives to change the judiciary, including the makeup of the committee for the appointment of judges,” she said in a letter to the PM, who faces prosecution for corruption. [node:read-more:link]

Refugee deal with U.S.

Almost simultaneously with the arrival in Ottawa of President Joe Biden today, it’s reported that Canada and the U.S. have an agreement permitting them to turn away asylum seekers at their borders. Disclosed by an official in Washington, the agreement evidently is scheduled to be signed before Biden heads home March 24. [node:read-more:link]

French pension riots continue

Police fired tear gas at violent black-clad anarchists in Paris today as hundreds of thousands of otherwise mainly peaceful protesters marched across France against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the national pension age to 64 from 62 this year. In a ninth day of nationwide protests, train and air travel was disrupted while professionals walked off the job. [node:read-more:link]

Water: no cause for celebration

The UN marked World Water Day by warning that supplies are increasingly at risk around the world because of increased urban demand. On average, it said today, “10 per cent of the global population lives in countries with high or critical water stress” as the world is “blindly travelling a dangerous path” toward unsustainability. [node:read-more:link]

China accuses Canada of “smear”

Confirmation that the RCMP are investigating two Chinese “covert police stations” in Quebec has prompted China’s foreign ministry to say that Canada should “stop sensationalizing and hyping the matter and stop attacks and smears.” The stations ostensibly are supposed to be helping expatriates with paperwork, among other things, but there have been allegations of intimidation and harassment the RCMP say “won’t be tolerated.” [node:read-more:link]

Exploitive employers “scumbags”

Draft changes to Ontario labour law would leave employers who withhold foreign workers’ passports or work permits facing stiffer penalties. “One group of workers who are often forgotten are migrant workers,” Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said March 20. during a press conference on Monday. “My message to those scumbags out there abusing migrant workers is this: you can run, but you can’t hide. We will find you, fine you, and put you behind bars.” [node:read-more:link]


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