Human Rights

Immunity proposed for Saudi leader

The U.S. Administration said November 17 that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, by virtue of his office, should be immune from prosecution for his alleged oversight of the 2018 killing in Turkey of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The request, which the State Department says is a “purely a legal determination”, is non-binding; a judge would ultimately decide on immunity. [node:read-more:link]

Myanmar releases former diplomat and others

Vicky Bowman, a former British ambassador to Myanmar, is one of four foreigners among 5,774 persons released today by the country’s military rulers. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the development but said “it is one bright spot in what is otherwise an incredibly dark time, where we see things going from bad to worse in Burma.” [node:read-more:link]

Social media backfires on PM

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among a number of high-profile individuals who shared an erroneous November 15 Twitter post that Iran had sentenced 15,000 protestors to death in the past couple of months. Having denounced “the Iranian regime's barbaric decision,” the PM removed his social media post when it was challenged. Iran has arrested more than 15,000 protestors, five of whom have been sentenced to death. [node:read-more:link]

Taliban increases suppression of women

Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan 15 months ago, they have increasingly mimited women’s freedoms despite promises not to do so. Having already banned girls from middle- and high-school, restricted women from working and told them how to dress in public, this week they banned them from gymnasiums and parks. A Ministry of Virtue and Vice spokesman says gender segregation orders were being ignored and women were not wearing the traditional headscarf. [node:read-more:link]

Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy confirmed

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Jolie said today that while Canada must continue to trade with an increasingly autocratic and assertive China because of the country’s global economic clout, there’s a clear need to be careful because of its disregard for human right and international trading rules. These are key elements of a speech on Indo-Pacific strategies scheduled to be delivered today to the Asia Pacific Foundation and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy in Toronto. [node:read-more:link]

“Digital Red Cross” protection proposed

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is proposing “digital” markers in the hope of protecting websites and systems used for medical and humanitarian purposes against cyberattacks. The “markers” could incorporate information that targetted institutions are protected by the Geneva Conventions. [node:read-more:link]

Fuel suppliers helping Myanmar junta

Amnesty International wants aviation fuel shipments to Myanmar suspended in an attempt to stop the military government from using its air firce against civilian targets. “There can be no justification for participating in the supply of aviation fuel to a military that has a flagrant contempt for human rights and has been repeatedly accused of committing war crimes,” says the organization’s Secretary General, Agnès Callamard of France. “If the planes can’t fuel up, they can’t fly out and wreak havoc.” [node:read-more:link]

Canada sanctions Haitian leaders

Canada is coordinating sanctions with the U.S. against two Haitian politicians, accusing of them of using their positions “to protect and enable the illegal activities of armed criminal gangs” which have paralyzed their country. Global Affairs Canada says President Youri Latortue and his predecessor, Joseph Lambert, support the gangs “through money laundering and other acts of corruption.” The U.S. Treasury Department says they have “have materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs.” [node:read-more:link]

Myanmar junta gets key support

A group of international legislators said today that “steadfast and uncritical” support of Myanmar’s military government by China, Russia and India are facilitating human rights abuses. Citing an “utter” lack of progress on a peace plan proposed by other states in the Association for Southeast Asian Nations, the legislators say it’s time to abandon the plan and increase support for the junta’s opponents [node:read-more:link]

Ontario invokes notwithstanding clause again

In a move condemned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario’s Conservative government invoked the “notwithstanding” clause of the Constitution when it introduced draft legislation to prevent educational workers from striking. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2015 (Docket No. 35423) that the right to strike was protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. [node:read-more:link]

Harper-era laws collapsing

Tighter criminal laws passed during prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government a decade are being struck down on appeal to various courts. The latest was a 2011 Criminal Code amendment requiring some sex offenders to be automatically added to the national registry for life; the Supreme Court has ruled (Docket No. 39360) that the requirement cast “too wide a net” by capturing offenders who presented a low risk of re-offending. [node:read-more:link]

B.C. hopes to address doctor shortage

A new physician payment model will be rolled out by the B.C. government in February in a bid to recruit and retain more family physicians. At least 20 per cent of the province’s residents do not have access to family doctors and Health Minister Adrian Dix said October 31 that the new model will consider an array of factors involved in patient consultations rather than a single fee for all visits. [node:read-more:link]

Iranian protestors challenge IRGC

Mass protests that began weeks ago in Iran after the death of a young woman in police custody continue despite an October 29 declaration by the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that they should end immediately. Meanwhile, the regime’s courts began hearing charges against as many as 1,000 detainees. [node:read-more:link]

The Nordic case for NATO membership

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said today that he is determined to meet the terms of a deal aimed at overcoming Turkey's objections to his government’s bid to join NATO along with Finland. “We are working very hard to fulfill what Sweden is supposed to do,” he said after a meeting in Helsinki with his Finnish counterpart, Sanna Mirella Marin. Turkey wants both Nordic countries to stop being havens for expatriate critics it sees as terrorists. [node:read-more:link]

Chinese charged with actions in U.S.

The U.S. has charged 13 Chinese nationals, including 10 government officials, of participating in schemes to repatriate critics of the Chinese government, obtain secret information about a U.S. investigation into a Chinese telecom firm and recruit spies. Attorney General Merrick Garland said October 24 that China had unsuccessfully “sought to interfere with the rights and freedoms of individuals . . . and to undermine our judicial system that protects those rights.” [node:read-more:link]


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