Human Rights

Did China initiate “Two Michaels” return?

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said Sept. 26 that China initiated the dialogue which led to the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor after nearly three years. “Having felt for over 1,000 days incredible pressure from Canada [and] from our allies . . . I think the Chinese government decided that, you know, it was time to put this behind them and move on.” [node:read-more:link]

Human rights catastrophe in Myanmar

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is calling on the international community to forestall catastrophic fallout from last February’s military coup in Myanmar. “The national consequences are terrible and tragicthe regional consequences could also be profound,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement today. “The international community must redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict before it is too late.” [node:read-more:link]

Asylum seekers challenge court ruling

The Supreme Court of Canada has been asked to review a Federal Court of Appeal ruling on the constitutionality of Canada’s “safe third country agreement” with the U.S. as it applies to asylum seekers. It enables Canada to turn back applicants seeking to enter from the U.S. A lower-court judge ruled last year that the 2004 agreement was unconstitutional but that was overturned earlier this year by the FCA. [node:read-more:link]

Kabul evacuees on Qatar Airways flight

Forty-three Canadians were among around 200 foreigners, including British, German, Hungarian and U.S. citizens, evacuated from Kabul today on a chartered Qatar Airways flight to Doha. It was the largest departure since U.S. forces completed their withdrawal at the end of August, leaving 1,250 Canadian citizens, permanent residents and family members stranded. [node:read-more:link]

World Bank suspends Afghanistan funding

Concern about how the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan will affect its “development prospects, especially for women”, has prompted the World Bank to halt support for projects. “We are exploring ways we can remain engaged to preserve hard-won development gains and continue to support the people of Afghanistan,” an official said Aug. 24. [node:read-more:link]

Venezuelan critic released from jail

Two days after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met with members of his country’s political opposition, authorities released Freddy Guevara. A close ally of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, he had been charged in July with treason and terrorism. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian’s death penalty upheld in China

A Chinese court today upheld the death sentence imposed on Canadian Robert Schellenberg for drug smuggling even as a B.C. judge is expected to rule on the requested deportation of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to face fraud charges in the U.S. Schellenberg originally was sentenced to 15 years but an appellate court imposed the death penalty in 2019, a month after Meng was detained at the request of the former U.S. administration. [node:read-more:link]

First Afghans arrive in Canada

The first “of a number of flights” carrying Afghans who helped the Canadian military in Afghanistan arrived late Aug. 4 at Toronto International Airport. The government did not say how many evacuees were aboard the RCAF’s Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport but at least three dozen were observed. [node:read-more:link]

Bosnian Serbs upset by genocide ruling

The UN High Representative for Bosnia has sparked more ethnic tension by trying to block Serbian denials that the killing of 8,000 Muslims during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was a genocide. Valentin Inzko wants to stop glorification of Serb commanders convicted of war crimes but their current political leaders are boycotting efforts to amend the criminal code to accommodate Inzko. “I followed my conscience,” the Austrian diplomat says. [node:read-more:link]

Feds settle First Nations drinking water class action

The Canadian government has reached an agreement in principle to settle class-action litigation regarding clean drinking water for First Nations communities. Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller said it includes “$1.5 billion in compensation for individuals deprived of clean drinking water, the creation of a $400-million First Nation economic and cultural restoration fund to support community-level efforts, a new commitment to Canada’s action plan for the lifting of all long-term drinking water advisories in public systems on reserve.” [node:read-more:link]

Canada’s problematic Afghan rescue plan

Afghan interpreters and others who helped the Canadian Armed Forces mission in Afghanistan “absolutely have the right to come to Canada,” says Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, but bureaucratic issues evidently persist. She was responding to criticism that the system proposed effectively made it difficult for prospective refugees, notably a 72-hour window for submitting paperwork, but the government now says that was a mistake and no applications would be rejected. [node:read-more:link]

First Afghans arrive in U.S.

The first flight evacuating Afghans who worked with the U.S. in Afghanistan arrived early today at Dulles International Airport near Washington. Fleeing Taliban reprisals, the 221 evacuees included 57 children and 15 infants. President Joe Biden called the flight “an important milestone as we continue to fulfill our promise to the thousands of Afghan nationals who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American troops and diplomats over the last 20 years.” [node:read-more:link]

Afghan rescue plan frustrating

A three-day deadline for Afghans who assisted Canadian forces to be brought Canada, coupled with complicated English-only online applications forms, are frustrating the humanitarian program. “The plan sounded good,” a CAF veteran said July 28. “As of this morning . . . the deadlines are completely unreasonable.” [node:read-more:link]

Suspected Daesh member repatriated

A woman with dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship who is believed to have been involved with the Islamic State is being permitted to return to New Zealand with her two children after Australia refused to take her back. She had left for Syria on an Australian passport in 2014 and was caught entering Turkey from Syria with her children. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the decision was not “taken lightly” and she accused the Australian government of “abdicating its responsibilities.” [node:read-more:link]


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