Human Rights

UN head wants troops in Haiti

UN Secretary General António Guterres wants an international specialized armed force deployed to Haiti as gang violence and human rights violations have reached a critical level. His call is part of a report January 23 by the UN Integrated Office in Haiti, which says killings surged by 35 per cent last year while kidnappings more than doubled. “There are also allegations that a significant number of national police . . . may be associated with gangs,” Guterres said. [node:read-more:link]

$2.8-billion class action payout

The federal government has agreed to pay $2.8 billion to settle a 2012 class-action lawsuit by 325 First Nations seeking compensation for the loss of language and culture caused by its residential school system. Subject to final discussions and court approval, the money will be paid to an independent non-profit trust. [node:read-more:link]

Israeli government sparks protests

Thousands of protesters packed the streets of Tel Aviv on the weekend, the latest in a series of protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government which is widely acknowledged as the most right-wing and religious-nationalist in Israel’s history. A key issue is a proposed shift of legal power to the government from the courts but critics also say Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, is trying to rein in the judges in an attempt to avoid a jail sentence. [node:read-more:link]

Israeli envoys leaving early

Ronen Hoffman, Israel’s ambassador to Canada, says he will leave his post after little more than a year in Ottawa. “With the transition to the new government and to different policy in Israel, my personal and professional integrity has compelled me to request to shorten my post and return to Israel this summer,” he said without elaboration. His counterpart in France announced last month that she was resigning in protest over the new right-wing government’s policies. [node:read-more:link]

Detained Canadians to be repatriated

The Ottawa lawyer representing the families of six Canadian women and 13 children held in Syria by Kurdish forces said today that a repatriation agreement has been reached. However, Lawrence Greenspon also said the fate of four male detainees is still in the hands of the Federal Court. [node:read-more:link]

Alberta dropping immigration detentions

The Alberta government gave notice today of its plan to scrap an agreement with the Canada Border Services Agency to detain persons awaiting immigration approval. “The change comes in response to concerns about using correctional facilities to hold people who haven’t been charged with a criminal offence, nor convicted of one,” it said in a statement. The decision takes effect at the end of June. [node:read-more:link]

Toronto police sued by family

A University of Toronto student and his mother are suing three Toronto police officers and the Toronto Police Services Board for nearly $3 million in damages, alleging that the student was unlawfully and violently detained in August 2021. Police disciplinary documents refer to the incident, which involved repeated shocks with a Taser, as a case of “mistaken identity.” [node:read-more:link]

British-Iranian man executed

A former Iranian deputy defence minister, Alireza Akbari, who also was a British citizen, has been executed for allegedly spying on behalf of British intelligence. Calling the hanging a “callous and cowardly act . . . by a barbaric regime”, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak imposed sanctions on Iran’s Prosecutor General and temporarily withdrawn Britain's ambassador. At least two other British-Iranians remain in detention, one of whom also holds U.S. citizenship. [node:read-more:link]

CIBC settles employees’ lawsuit

A class-action lawsuit on behalf of 31,000 bank employees in 2007 has resulted in CIBC having to pay $153 million to cover unpaid overtime. Ontario Court of Appeal last year dismissed an attempt by the bank to overturn a lower-court ruling in favour of the plaintiffs and the bank explained January 5 that the settlement would avoid further legal costs [node:read-more:link]

Myanmar releasing thousands of prisoners

Myanmar marked the 75th anniversary today of its independence from Britain as Burma, by releasing more than 7,000 prisoners as the leader of the junta which overthrew the government 23 months ago thanked China, India and other countries for their support. While the latest amnesty, announced by the state broadcaster, does not include those convicted of murder or rape as well as a range of other crimes such as corruption, the fate of political prisoners remained unclear. [node:read-more:link]

Aug San Suu Kyi’s sentence extended

Ignoring a UN Security Council resolution call for her release, a closed military court in Myanmar today extended an already lengthy prison term for former leader Aung San Suu Kyi whose government was toppled in a February 2021 coup. The latest of a series of trials widely derided as shams added seven years to the 26 years already imposed on the 77-year-old Nobel laureate. [node:read-more:link]

Israel’s right-wing government challenged

Nearly 1,200 Israeli military veterans, including several former senior officers, are pressing legal authorities to be “the final line of defence” in protecting their country against an alliance of religious and ultranationalist parties supporting Benjamin Netanyahu’s return as prime minister. “We come from all strata of society and from across the political spectrum,” they say in a December 26 letter. letter said. “What we have in common today is the fear that the democratic state of Israel is in danger.” [node:read-more:link]

Israel prioritizing West Bank expansion

Expanding Israel’s presence in the disputed West Bank is top priority for Benjamin Netanyahu's incoming coalition government, which needs the support of ultra-nationalists to hold on to power. To be sworn in December 29, the new administration said today it will legalize dozens of internationally-condemned settlements in the area and formally annex the occupied territory as part of its coalition deal. [node:read-more:link]

Return-to-work for public service

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier insists that the federal government’s return-to-office mandate, which begins taking effect January 16, is not to be decided in collective bargaining with public service unions. “It’s the right of the employer; it’s the management’s right,” she said December 27. At least two public service unions have called on the government to retract its directive. [node:read-more:link]


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