Wisconsin school district settles transgender discrimination case
January 12, 18.
[JURIST] The Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) [official website] agreed[Kenosha News report] Tuesday to settle a lawsuit filed by a former transgender student who said the district discriminated against him by not allowing him to use the men’s restroom at his high school. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
Federal judge temporaily blocks discontinuation of DACA program
January 10, 2018
[JURIST] Judge William Alsup of the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] on Tuesday temporarily blocked [order, PDF] the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) [official website] program, which gives undocumented immigrants brought into the US as children, known as “Dreamers,” protection from deportation.
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Nepal: Implement Supreme Court Ruling on Protecting the Rights of LGBTI Persons
December 21, 2017
On the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Sunil Babu Panton the protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI), the ICJ calls on the Government of Nepal to fully implement the Court’s ruling.
In 2007, the Supreme Court of Nepal delivered a judgment in Sunil Babu Pant v. the Government of Nepal and others, directing the Government of Nepal to take necessary measures to ensure that people of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations could fully enjoy their rights without discrimination. Such measures were to include the adoption of new laws or amending existing laws.
However, ten years after the judgment, LGBTI persons are denied equal protection of the law, and their rights are still not fully protected.
“The Supreme Court’s 2007 judgment gave hope to LGBTI people in Nepal and inspired judiciaries in the region and the world,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s Asia Director.
“Despite some positive measures, the Government has much more work to do to implement the judgment and ensure that the rights of the LGBTI community in Nepal are fully respected.”
The Supreme Court based its findings on international human rights law and standards, particularly in respect of the right to non-discrimination and equality and the right to privacy. The Court relied in particular on Nepal’s legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
The Court strongly rejected arguments that a person’s LGBTI status was the result of “emotional and psychological disorders”, and found that the petitioners faced violence, stigmatization, and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Court further ordered that a new Constitution under consideration by the Constituent Assembly should guarantee the right to non-discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Since then, some steps have been taken. The 2015 Constitution that was ultimately adopted contains provisions guaranteeing the right to equality for all citizens and establishing special provisions for the protection, empowerment and advancement of gender and “sexual minorities”. Pursuant to a subsequent Supreme Court ruling, transgender men and women can now change their gender markers to “O” on official documents. However, to use “M” or “F”, they still face prohibitive and unclear restrictions. A recently tabled bill would also criminalize unnecessary medical interventions and provide some, though incomplete, protections to intersex children.
Despite these developments, discrimination against LGBTI people remains rampant in the labour market, in schools and in hospitals. LGBTI people are mistreated and sometimes disowned by their families and singled out for physical attack – often beaten, sexually assaulted and subjected to severe physical abuse. Recent revisions to the Civil Code (2017), effective from mid-August 2018, do not recognize equality before the law related to family life.
“These violations continue in the absence of a state strategy or political will to tackle them,” added Rawski. “The Government of Nepal should prioritize enacting reforms to ensure the protection of the rights of LGBTI persons.”
The ICJ calls on the Government of Nepal to fully implement all aspects of the 2007 ruling and subsequent Supreme Court rulings affecting LGBTI communities. This should include, at the minimum:
• Repealing all discriminatory laws, including provisions of the recently introduced Penal and Civil Codes, against sexual orientation and gender identity in line with the principle of equality, equal protection and non-discrimination;
• Enacting legislation that allows same-sex couples full equality before and protection of the law;
• Enacting legislation that removes any prohibitive or unclear restrictions to changing of gender markers on all official documents;
• Enacting legislation that establishes prior, free, full, informed, genuine and consistent consent, and prevents unnecessary medical interventions on intersex persons; and
• Ensuring that the legal protections are given practical effect, including through implementation measures and administrative instructions binding officials at all levels of government.
Guatemalan communities fight back in defense of land and territory
December 05, 2017
Guatemalan indigenous and peasant communities are finally finding a measure of justice and recovering lands and territories that had previously been seized by authorities or private economic actors, including during the internal armed conflict that took place from 1960 to 1996.
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Saudi Arabia: New Counterterrorism Law Enables Abuse
Source: Human Rights Watch
Saudi Arabia’s new counterterrorism law includes vague and overly broad definitions of acts of terrorism, in some cases punishable by death, Human Rights Watch said today.
The law replaces a widely criticized counterterrorism law promulgated in 2014, adding definitions of specific acts of terrorism and their corresponding sentencing guidelines. It includes criminal penalties of 5 to 10 years in prison for portraying the king or crown prince, directly or indirectly, “in a manner that brings religion or justice into disrepute,” and criminalizes a wide range of peaceful acts that bear no relation to terrorism.
“Saudi authorities are already methodically silencing and locking away peaceful critics on spurious charges,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of improving abusive legislation, Saudi authorities are doubling down with the ludicrous proposition that criticism of the crown prince is an act of terrorism.”
The Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing, published on November 1, 2017, strips away extensive powers from the Interior Ministry, which Saudi authorities reorganized in 2017, and transfers them to the newly established Public Prosecution and Presidency of the State Security, both bodies that report directly to the king.
The new law carries an overly broad definition of terrorism similar to the previous law. Unlike the previous definition, the new one includes a specific reference to violence with the clause “harm an individual or result in their death, when the purpose – by its nature or its context – is to terrorize people or force a government or international organization to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action.”
The new law, however, does not restrict the definition of terrorism to violent acts. Other conduct it defines as terrorism includes “disturbing public order,” “shaking the security of the community and the stability of the State,” “exposing its national unity to danger,” and “suspending the basic laws of governance,” all of which are vague and have been used by Saudi authorities to punish peaceful dissidents and activists. Prominent human rights activists Abdullah al-Hamid and Mohammed al-Qahtani are serving 11-year and 10-year sentences respectively, based on charges that contain similar language. Human rights activist Essam Koshak is currently on trial on similar charges.
The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism had concluded in May, following a visit to Saudi Arabia, that he was “concerned about the unacceptably broad definition of terrorism and the use of Saudi Arabia’s 2014 counter-terrorism law and other national security provisions against human rights defenders, writers, bloggers, journalists and other peaceful critics.”
One positive change to the definition of terrorism stipulated in article 1 of the previous law is the removal of the controversial phrase “insulting the reputation of the State,” which prosecutors have vigorously employed to charge and prosecute dissidents. Article 30 of the new law, however, allows prosecutors to limit the right to free expression by designating criticism of the king and the crown prince that “brings religion or justice into disrepute” as a terrorist act.
Given the new law’s vague definition of terrorism, which could allow authorities to continue to target peaceful criticism, other provisions of the law raise alarms, Human Rights Watch said. Article 34, for example, provides a prison term of three to eight years for anyone who supports, promotes, sympathizes with, or incites terrorism. Article 35 stipulates a sentence of no less than 15 years for anyone who “misuse[s] their status in any way either academic or social status or media influence to promote terrorism.”
The new law undermines due process and fair trial rights, Human Rights Watch said. Instead of amending the law to strengthen the role of the judiciary, it grants the public prosecution and the Presidency of the State Security the legal authority to arrest and detain people, monitor their communications and financial data, and search their properties and seize assets without judicial oversight. The Presidency of State Security can ban a suspect from travel without notifying them, and the law gives police officers and military personnel authorization to use force “according to regulations laid down in the law.” No additional regulations on use of force are mentioned in the text.
As in the previous law, article 19 of the new law allows the public prosecution to hold a suspect in pretrial detention for up to 12 months, with unlimited extension upon court order, and article 20 allows suspects to be held for up to 90 days in incommunicado detention, where torture and mistreatment are most frequent, according to the UN special rapporteur on torture. In a memorandum submitted to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in April 2016, Human Rights Watch highlighted seven cases in which detainees tried at the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) alleged that confessions were extracted through torture.
Article 21 restricts the suspect’s right to a lawyer during interrogation, and article 27 gives the SCC the authority to hear witnesses and experts without the defendant or their lawyer present. It requires the court only to inform them of the content of the testimony, greatly hampering their right to challenge this evidence.
The law, which includes 27 articles on penalties, introduces the death penalty for three acts. Articles 40 and 41 state that the court may sentence to death “anyone who kidnaps or detains a person or threatens to do so in execution of a terrorist crime” and “anyone who seizes a means of public transport or threatens to do so in execution of a terrorist crime” whenever any such action is accompanied by the use or declaration of either weapons or explosives. International law mandates that in countries that retain capital punishment, the death penalty should be applied only to the most serious crimes such as those resulting in death or serious bodily harm, and urges countries to abolish the death penalty. Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as cruel and inhuman punishment.
“Mohammad bin Salman claims to be a reformist but locking away peaceful critics as terrorists is the same old despotism we’ve often seen from Saudi rulers,” Whitson said.
Las decisiones de Guatemala tras su Examen Periódico Universal en la ONU
14 de noviembre, 2017
Guatemala aceptó 150 de las 205 recomendaciones que le formularon los 68 Estados que participaron en su Examen Periódico Universal (EPU), llevado a cabo el pasado 8 de noviembre en Ginebra.
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Extraterritoriality: a core element in the fight against transnational corporations’ impunity with respect to human rights
Source: Red Internacional de Derechos Humanos
November 09, 2017
The adoption of resolution 26/9 in 2014 brings hope for the future creation of a binding treaty to end the impunity transnational corporations (TNCs) are currently enjoying with respect to human rights. An open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, was created to elaborate an international legally binding instrument. The third session of this working group took place from October 23 to 27 and gathered NGOs, panelists and States who expressed their views on the content, scope, nature and form of the future binding treaty. Leer el resto de esta entrada »