Human Rights

French pension riots continue

Police fired tear gas at violent black-clad anarchists in Paris today as hundreds of thousands of otherwise mainly peaceful protesters marched across France against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the national pension age to 64 from 62 this year. In a ninth day of nationwide protests, train and air travel was disrupted while professionals walked off the job. [node:read-more:link]

Water: no cause for celebration

The UN marked World Water Day by warning that supplies are increasingly at risk around the world because of increased urban demand. On average, it said today, “10 per cent of the global population lives in countries with high or critical water stress” as the world is “blindly travelling a dangerous path” toward unsustainability. [node:read-more:link]

China accuses Canada of “smear”

Confirmation that the RCMP are investigating two Chinese “covert police stations” in Quebec has prompted China’s foreign ministry to say that Canada should “stop sensationalizing and hyping the matter and stop attacks and smears.” The stations ostensibly are supposed to be helping expatriates with paperwork, among other things, but there have been allegations of intimidation and harassment the RCMP say “won’t be tolerated.” [node:read-more:link]

Exploitive employers “scumbags”

Draft changes to Ontario labour law would leave employers who withhold foreign workers’ passports or work permits facing stiffer penalties. “One group of workers who are often forgotten are migrant workers,” Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said March 20. during a press conference on Monday. “My message to those scumbags out there abusing migrant workers is this: you can run, but you can’t hide. We will find you, fine you, and put you behind bars.” [node:read-more:link]

Israel backing down on judiciary?

Faced with widespread domestic and international protests, the Israeli government today proposed a change to its planned overhaul of the country’s judicial system. The concession would give the right-wing coalition government less power to appoint new judges, who are currently selected by a committee comprised of politicians, judges and legal experts. [node:read-more:link]

Rights body blots own copy book

The Treasury Board Secretariat says that the Canadian Human Rights Commission discriminated against its own black and racialized employees. It was responding to a policy grievance filed in October by nine employees’ unions alleging that they and others had faced “systemic” racism, sexism and discrimination. [node:read-more:link]

ICC arrest warrant out for Putin

The International Criminal Court today issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over his alleged responsibility for deporting children from occupied Ukraine to Russia. A similar warrant was issued for his Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova [node:read-more:link]

Bodycams mandated for Alberta police

In what it says is an effort to increase public trust, Alberta plans to mandate vest-mounted cameras for police. Public Safety & Emergency Services Minister Mike Ellis says that “by documenting the behaviour of the police in public, collecting better evidence, and improving our approach to resolving complex complaints during investigations”, cameras are “an objective measure to show what occurs.” [node:read-more:link]

Residential schools deal approved

A $2.8-billion settlement agreement between the federal government and plaintiffs representing 325 First Nations whose members went to residential schools has been approved by Federal Court of Canada. Justice Ann Marie McDonald said in her March 9 ruling (Docket No. T-1542-12) that the settlement does not release the government from similar future lawsuits. [node:read-more:link]

Guantánamo releases continue

A 48-year-old Saudi held without charge for nearly 21 years by the U.S. at Guantánamo Bay has been repatriated, the latest in a series of similar releases. Ghassan Al Sharbi, whom the Department of Defense said has “physical and mental health issues”, had been compliant in detention and was found to have had no leadership or facilitator roles in al-Qaeda. [node:read-more:link]

Georgia yields to local and EU pressure

The government of Georgia, a former Soviet republic hoping to join the European Union, is “unconditionally” withdrawing draft legislation its critics said could stifle media freedom and civil society. President Salome Zourabichvili, who said she would veto it, likened it to Russian law used to clamp down on dissent. [node:read-more:link]

Flipping the bird “God-given” right

Acquitting a Montrealer of criminal harassment and threatening a neighbour, a Quebec judge, said it is “not a crime to give someone the finger” and also called the case a bewildering injustice. “Flipping the proverbial bird is a God-given, Charter-enshrined right that belongs to every red-blooded Canadian,” Justice Dennis Galiatsatos ruled. “It may not be civil, it may not be polite, it may not be gentlemanly. Nevertheless, it does not trigger criminal liability.” [node:read-more:link]

Belarusian exiles sentenced

Exiled Belarusian politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is dismissing as a “farce” a trial which ended with her being sentenced to 15 years in prison for criticizing her country’s autocratic leader. She is among five opposition politicians sentenced in absentia. [node:read-more:link]

CBC employees feel “betrayed”

After the CBC recently included personal information such as sexual orientation and religion in their online human resources, some of the national broadcaster’s employees feel “betrayed.” They say they had provided the information confidentially in response to a voluntary “cultural census.” [node:read-more:link]

Nobel laureate peace activist jailed

Ales Bialiatski, a Belarusian pro-democracy activist who won the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison along with two other activists. Bialiatski was one of the leaders of the democracy movement in Belarus in the mid-1980s, particularly as President Alexander Lukashenko became increasingly authoritarian after his 1994 election [node:read-more:link]


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