Human Rights

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]

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]


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