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Customer protests have moved a few companies to quit ALEC (the most extreme of the many conservative lobbying organizations).Will customer protests move companies to reconsider their use of our…Continue
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© 2018 Reuters (New York) – The Indian parliament should not adopt into law an ordinance which introduces capital punishment for those convicted of raping a girl under 12 years of age, Human Rights Watch said today. India should instead work towards abolishing the death penalty which is inherently cruel and irreversible, with little evidence that it serves as a deterrent.
The government passed the ordinance on April 21 following widespread protests after attempts by some leaders and supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to defend Hindu perpetrators of the abduction, ill-treatment, rape, and murder of an 8-year-old Muslim child in Jammu and Kashmir state. In Uttar Pradesh state, authorities not only failed to arrest a BJP legislator accused of raping a 17-year-old girl, but also allegedly beat her father to death in police custody.
“With this populist call for hangings, the government wants to cover up the fact that its supporters may have engaged in a hate crime,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “If the government is serious about dealing with violence against women and children, it will have to do the hard work of reforming the criminal justice system and ensure that perpetrators are not protected from prosecution by political patronage.”
With this populist call for hangings, the government wants to cover up the fact that its supporters may have engaged in a hate crime.
South Asia Director
Two BJP ministers in Jammu and Kashmir state government joined an affiliated group called the Hindu Ekta Manch to protest the arrest of the accused in the horrific case in the state. The accused include a former government official and four police personnel. The ministers have since resigned.
Following the 2012 gang rape and death of Jyoti Singh Pandey, a medical student in Delhi, the Indian government enacted legal reforms to respond to sexual assault and rape. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, added new categories of offenses regarding violence against women and girls and made punishment more stringent, including death penalty for repeat offenders. Similarly, the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act, 2012, established guidelines for the police and courts to deal with victims sensitively and provided for the setting up of specialist child courts.
“There was hope that these measures would encourage more victims and their families to step forward, and result in more successful prosecutions,” Ganguly said.
While the number of rape cases reported in 2016 increased by 56 percent over 2012, there remains much to be done to change the way the justice system responds to victims.
In a November 2017 report, “Everyone Blames Me,” Human Rights Watch found that survivors, particularly among marginalized communities, still find it difficult to register police complaints. They often suffer humiliation at police stations and hospitals, are still subjected to degrading tests by medical professionals, and feel intimidated and scared when the case reaches the courts. They face significant barriers when trying to obtain critical support services such as health care, counseling, and legal aid.
Although Indian law makes it mandatory for police officials to register rape complaints, Human Rights Watch found that police sometimes press the victim’s family to “settle” or “compromise.”
In cases of children, not only has the government not established effective oversight mechanisms that could help prevent child sexual abuse, but existing measures remain poorly implemented.
For women and girls with disabilities, who face a higher risk of sexual violence, the challenges are even greater, Human Rights Watch has found.
However, instead of fixing these structural barriers, the Indian government has expanded the use of capital punishment for rape. Now the parliament should ensure that this ordinance does not become part of permanent legislation.
The government’s ordinance comes despite the fact that both a high-level government committee and India’s Law Commission came out against the death penalty. Human Rights Watch opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases.
The new ordinance also increases minimum punishment for rape of girls and women. While the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act covers sexual abuse against both girls and boys, the ordinance does not cover rape of boys.
In India, according to the 2016 government data, out of 38,947 cases of rape reported by children and women, the accused was known to the victim in 94.6 percent of the cases. In 630 cases, the accused was the victim’s father, brother, grandfather, or son; in 1,087 cases, the accused was a close family member; in 2,174 cases the accused was a relative; and in 10,520 cases, the accused was a neighbor.
Rape is already underreported in India largely because of social stigma, victim-blaming, poor response by the criminal justice system, and lack of any national victim and witness protection law making them highly vulnerable to pressure from the accused as well as the police. Children are even more vulnerable due to pressure from family and society.
With this background, an increase in punishment, including the death penalty, may, in fact, lead to a decrease in reporting of such crimes.
“The Indian government has repeatedly said that it is committed to dealing with violence against women and children. But actions speak louder than words,” Ganguly said. “The new amendments are ill-conceived and hasty. Protecting children requires a far more thoughtful approach and politicians need to summon the political will to deliver it.”
© 2018 Reuters / Kim Hong-Ji
“As the UN Security Council has recognized, human rights abuses in North Korea and threats to international peace and security are intrinsically connected,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Any long-term resolution of security issues on the Korean peninsula will require the North Korean government’s commitment to fundamental and wide-ranging reforms.”
As the UN Security Council has recognized, human rights abuses in North Korea and threats to international peace and security are intrinsically connected.
On March 31, 2018, North Korea criticized Kang Kyung-hwa, South Korea's foreign minister, for asking North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and improve its human rights record. According to North Korean media, her remarks were “an open political provocation to the DPRK and an intolerable act of chilling the atmosphere for dialogue.” On April 4, 2018, Kang told journalists that Seoul maintains a “firm stance” on the terrible situation of human rights in the North, but her government will need more preparation to include the issue in the agenda.
On April 10, 2018, 40 organizations, including Human Rights Watch and representing over 200 non-governmental organizations from Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and North America, sent a letter to Moon asking him to urge Kim to act on United Nations human rights recommendations; engage on inter-Korean human rights issues, including human rights dialogues and information exchanges; push for regular reunion meetings of separated families; and increase inter-Korean people-to-people contact. The organizations also called on the South Korean government to provide much-needed humanitarian aid with appropriate monitoring.
On April 11, 2018, an official from Moon’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae ruled out North Korea’s human rights record as an agenda item for the summit.
Human Rights Watch called on the South Korean government to rethink its decision and raise human rights in North Korea during the summit. Among other things, it should ask North Korea to engage with the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK and allow him to make a country visit. Other relevant UN human rights rapporteurs should also be given access.
Even if the situation of human rights in North Korea is not included as an agenda item during the summit, the South Korean government and other governments, such as the United States and Japan, should insist on the inclusion of human rights in all future security and other discussions, including possible economic or technical cooperation, investment in North Korea, and offers of humanitarian aid. The North Korean government has ratified one of the main international human rights treaties, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as other international human rights instruments. It recently agreed with the United Nations on a strategic framework for cooperation (DPRK UN Strategic Framework (UNSF) for Cooperation) in all their cooperation projects between 2017 and 2021, whose goal is to improve the well-being of the North Korean people, particularly vulnerable groups, and applies a human rights-based approach intended to put people at the center of all dealings with the DPRK.
“This summit is a crucial moment for inter-Korean relations and particularly for the long-suffering people of North Korea,” said Adams. “The goal should be to find real, long-term solutions to the security challenges on the peninsula, while taking steps to improve the dire human rights situation in North Korea.”
Last weekend, I attempted to buy new sneakers online for my five-year-old, but Amazon’s website was down. My husband wanted to look up traffic updates on Google, but Google search was down. I tried to check in online for my Monday morning flight, but the airline’s website was down.
Welcome to Moscow, the capital of the Russian Federation, where authorities are blocking millions of IP addresses. It’s part of their war on Telegram, an Internet-based messenger, for the company’s refusal to provide its encryption keys to security services.
Russia’s state media and communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, known as RKN, obtained a court order on April 13 to shut down Telegram, following RKN’s year-long battle with the company, which has close to ten million users in Russia and some 200 million worldwide. The court ruling is based on the problematic 2016 counter-terrorism legislative amendments requiring internet companies to hand over decoding information to the government.
Because of its end-to-end encryption, Telegram can’t provide decoding information to security services even if it wanted to. Nonetheless, the ban entered into force on April 16, with RKN blocking over 16 million IP addresses in the first 24 hours. As numerous Google services started collapsing over the past few days, RKN confirmed they were behind it and were aiming to stop Google from enabling Telegram’s operations. Yet there is nothing in the court order that speaks to RKN’s entitlement to disrupt Russian residents’ access to other perfectly lawful, routine online services.
Life’s gone hay-wire for Russian internet users. Friends and strangers told me they couldn’t look up train schedules, buy tickets for travel or to a show. Some lost access to their Google drives and couldn’t retrieve contact lists. X-boxes froze. Music playlists and iPhone games stopped working. Some wire transfers couldn’t be accomplished. Some insurance policies couldn’t be purchased. Some banks even experienced problems with cash machines. A popular groceries franchise couldn’t process discount cards. Kids whined they couldn’t do their homework because online sources listed by their teachers were inaccessible. Parents couldn’t access some school and kindergarten listservs.
Business as usual is done and over with. Some of the most common internet-based services became collateral damage in RKN’s war and, for now at least, are not reliable; except Telegram itself, which has miraculously persevered. On Sunday morning, millions received a message from Telegram, calling all those who support internet freedom to throw paper airplanes at 7 p.m. Moscow time. My son enjoyed the experience tremendously – possibly more than he would have enjoyed the new sneakers.