Human Rights

“Thousands” of jailed Iranians freed

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has pardoned “tens of thousands” of prisoners, including many linked to anti-government protests in recent months, on the eve of the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution. Persons charged with offences such as espionage, murder or destruction of state property, some of whom face the death penalty, are not being pardoned. [node:read-more:link]

UNHCR concerned about Israel

Volker Turk, an Austrian lawyer who has been UN High Commissioner for Human Rights since last October, said today that Israeli new right-wing coalition government could fuel further violations of human rights and humanitarian law. “Rather than doubling down on failed approaches of violence and coercion that have singularly failed in the past,” he urged “everyone involved to step out of the illogic of escalation that has only ended in dead bodies, shattered lives and utter despair.” [node:read-more:link]

Vocal Democrat ousted from powerful committee

Minnesota Democrat Representatives Ilhan Omar was kicked off the Republican-led House foreign affairs committee. Her party says the move is “political revenge” for some of the Somalia-born Muslim politician’s criticisms of Israel since she was elected in 2019 but both parties have said some remarks were antisemitic. [node:read-more:link]

House motion criticized in Beijing

The Chinese foreign ministry says a House of Commons motion calling for asylum for Uyghurs in third countries is political meddling and that Canada is “spreading disinformation and misleading the public.” China insists that its Trukic ethnic Muslim minority lives peacefully despite long-standing reports of forced labour and other institutional abuse. [node:read-more:link]

Assisted suicide plan postponed

Implementation of nearly two-year-old federal legislation to permit medical assistance in dying for mental health reasons would be postponed until at least 2024 through an amendment introduced in the House of Commons today. next year. “It is clear more time is needed to get this right,” explained Justice Minister David Lametti. [node:read-more:link]

RCMP officers charged in B.C.

Two RCMP officers in Prince George, B.C., are charged with manslaughter in the 2017 death of an indigenous man in their custody, prosecutors announced February 1. Three others are charged with attempting to obstruct justice. Four of the officers remain on active duty while the other is on administrative leave for unrelated reasons. [node:read-more:link]

Ontario company fined over assault

A construction company’s former employee has been awarded a total of $295,158 in damages by the Ontario Superior Court against the company and a supervisor who assaulted him. In awarding damages (Docket No. CV-20-0000361), Justice Joseph Di Luca said the claimant had been subjected to some of the worst treatment he had ever encountered, notably an assault requiring surgery. [node:read-more:link]

Homeless protected by courts

Citing similar cases in British Columbia, an Ontario Superior Court judge has denied a municipality’s application to clear out an encampment of homeless people. The Region of Waterloo had asked the court to find that some 50 people in a Kitchener were violating trespass laws but Judge Michael Valente ruled that there is a constitutional right for a person to shelter themselves if accessible indoor spaces aren’t available. [node:read-more:link]

Saudis stepping up executions

Saudi Arabia’s capital punishment rate has nearly doubled since 2015, according to reports by international and Saudi human rights groups. They said the death penalty, often carried out in secrecy has been used routinely to silence political dissidents and protestors, including detainees who were children when they were arrested. [node:read-more:link]

PM defends Islamophobia advisor

Amira Elghawaby, recently appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a special representative on combatting Islamophobia, co-authored a 2019 article which critical of Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans some public servants from wearing “religious symbols” such as traditional head-coverings. Pushback in the National Assembly and Parliament prompted the PM to seek clarification of her comment after which said he said he is satisfied and prepared to move on. [node:read-more:link]

Alleged ISIS repatriations naïve?

The federal government’s agreement to repatriate Canadians detained in Syria on suspicion of involvement in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is a concern for some of the 1,200 Yazidis who fled to Canada when ISIS destroyed their community in northern Iraq. Lawyers for the detainees contend there is no link to terrorism, saying that if the federal government does have evidence, it should prosecute in a Canadian court. Some Yazidis believe that the government and human rights organizations are naïve. [node:read-more:link]

Is Russia stealing children?

Filippo Grandi, UN High Commission for Refugee since January 2016, has accused Russia of violating “fundamental” principles by issuing passports to unaccompanied Ukrainian child refugees and then putting them up for adoption. “In the situation of war, you cannot determine if children have families or guardianship,” the Italian diplomat said January 27. “Until that is clarified, you cannot give them another nationality or having them adopted. Russia denies the allegation. [node:read-more:link]

Renewed violence against Israel

A gunman killed at least seven people and wounded 10 others today in an attack on a synagogue on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a day after a deadly Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank. Police, who described the dead shooter as a Palestinian, called it a “terrorist incident” but a Hamas spokesman said it was “a natural response to the occupation criminal actions.” [node:read-more:link]

Canada countering Islamophobia

Human rights advocate Amira Elghawaby is Canada’s first special representative on combatting Islamophobia. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to appoint the Egyptian-born former journalist, who immigrated with her parents as an infant, is part of a move to stem hatred and discrimination after a series of attacks against Muslims in recent years. [node:read-more:link]

ISIS repatriations a thorny issue

The legal and safety implications of a Federal Court order to the government to repatriate four alleged Canadian members of ISIS are quickly becoming an issue for debate at home. The Ottawa lawyer who represented the men and other Syrian-held captives says the government can prosecute them if they’re held responsible for terrorist activitities but a former CSIS officer says an effective prosecution needs evidence and witnesses in Syria. Moreover, says Phil Gurski, “the supporters of these men and women have portrayed them as victims that need to be rescued.” [node:read-more:link]


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