Human Rights

Aung San Suu Kyi faces life imprisonment

Myanmar opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to four years in prison, the first in a series of verdicts which eventually mean life in prison. Detained since a military coup in February which toppled her civilian government, she was convicted on charges of inciting dissent and breaking pandemic rules, as was former President and ally Win Myint. Suu Kyui became one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners when she was detained for 21 years by a pevious junta. [node:read-more:link]

New sanctions against Belarus

Working with the U.S., Britain and the European Union, Canada imposed new sanctions today on Belarusian officials over human rights violations, saying President Alexander Lukashenko’s government “must answer for its acts, which affect those both inside and outside its borders.” Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said “we will not allow the Lukashenko regime to continue to violate its international obligations with impunity.” [node:read-more:link]

House passes controversial “therapy” bil

Members of Parliament kicked off December with a rare display of unanimity in giving third reading to Bill C-4 only two days after the government introduced it in the House of Commons. Now referred to the Senate, it would amend the Criminal Code to ban widely-discredited “conversion therapy” which attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation or gender identity. [node:read-more:link]

Conversion therapy bill resurrected

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has confirmed that his caucus will have a free vote the government’s Bill C-4, draft legislation introduced Nov. 29. It would ban widely-discredited “conversion therapy” which attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation or gender identity. An earlier version was passed by the House of Commons despite 62 Conservatives having voted against it, but it did not pass the Senate before dissolution of the last Parliament. [node:read-more:link]

Hundreds of Taiwanese deported to China

Safeguard Defenders, a Madrid-based human rights group, reported Nov. 30 that more 600 Taiwanese arrested overseas have been deported to China in recent years, a practice it said is “used as a tool to undermine Taiwan's sovereignty.” It also said some countries, including Spain, which have extradition treaties with China, are violating international human rights laws. [node:read-more:link]

Voting age limit faces legal challenge

Ontario Superior Court of Justice has been asked to rule on the constitutionality of the Canada Elections Act’s limit on voting rights to those aged 18 or older. A group of young Canadians contends that the limit violates the Charter of Rights and Freedom which states that “every citizen of Canada” and that “every individual is equal before and under the law.” [node:read-more:link]

Taliban on revenge spree

Human Rights Watch said today that the Taliban have summarily killed or “disappeared” more than 100 former Afghan police and intelligence officers since taking power in mid-August. The New York-based group says the Taliban have been using employment records to targeted those who surrendered and were promised amnesty. “The pattern of killings has sown terror throughout Afghanistan, as no one associated with the former government can feel,” the group says. [node:read-more:link]

Afghan refugees’ bureaucratic nightmare

An Afghan mother and family, having been safely evacuated with the help of Canada’s special immigration program, had hoped to be in Canada by now. Instead, they’re stuck in Albania after spending a month in Qatar and Canada’s missions in both countries have said they have to deal with the embassy in Rome. “There's been this kind of good policy intent but there's been a tremendous amount of confusion,” says the head of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “People . . . are feeling very frustrated with the Canadian government.” [node:read-more:link]

Afghanistan neighbours seek assistance

As the Taliban continue to call for Afghanistan’s frozen assets to released, leaders from an Asian political and economic alliance, including close neighbours, are calling for more foreign support to avoid further economic turmoil and a wave of refugees. [node:read-more:link]

Anonymous Canadian helps Afghan judges escape

A judge in Afghanistan facing death threats from prisoners freed by the Taliban has been evacuated along with 25 colleagues and their families, according to a noted British human rights lawyer and member of the House of Lords. Baroness Helena Kennedy recently explained the September rescue effort which was made possible by, among other things, a $300,000 donation by an anonymous Canadian philanthropist. [node:read-more:link]

Interpol president accused of torture

Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, Inspector General of the United Arab Emirates interior ministry, was elected President of Interpol today despite a complaint by members of the European Parliament that he had been responsible for the torture of a prominent dissident in the UAE. The position is seen as largely ceremonial in that Secretary-General Juergen Stock, a former German police officer and criminologist appointed to a second five-year term in 2019, handles day-to-day management of the organization headquartered in Lyon, France. [node:read-more:link]

Falling short on refugee admissions

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada reports that it is falling short of welcoming 81,000 refugees by the end of 2021. It had processed some 7,800 government-assisted refugees by the end of October, well below the target for the year of 12,500 as well as more than 32,000 refugees who requested asylum after entering the country, also well below the target of 45,000. Also, Canada had accepted just 4,500 privately-sponsored refugees compared with an intake goal of 22,500. [node:read-more:link]

COVID-19 help tops parliamentary agenda

When the first session of the new Parliament opened today, the government served notice that draft legislation to approve new support for business sectors hardest-hit by COVID-19 is a top priority. Other key issues for the government include measures to improve paid sick leave for federally-regulated workers and to make harassment of healthcare workers a criminal offence. [node:read-more:link]

Canada ends pandemic refugee blockage

The federal government is ending a policy of turning back asylum-seekers due to COVID-19 concerns. At least 544 would-be refugees were sent back to the U.S. between March 2020 and mid-October but refugee advocates argued that asylum claims should not be considered “discretionary travel” and pointed to class exemptions during the pandemic for professional athletes and others. [node:read-more:link]

G7 Summit next month in U.K.

Ministers responsible for foreign affairs and development in the G7 group of nations are scheduled to meet Dec. 10-12 in Britain Dec. 10 to Dec. 12 together with some ministers from countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations. The British Foreign Office’s draft agenda includes talks on economic resilience after COVID-19, global health and human rights. [node:read-more:link]


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