Monday, 3 December 2007

The mine ban treaty 10th anniversary: A success in progress

Filed under: Myanmar,News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 17:15 PDT

Geneva – Ten years ago today, the treaty banning the use, production, trade and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines was signed in Ottawa, Canada by 122 states.

Today, the number of States Parties to the treaty has risen to 156, including mine-affected countries as well as former users and producers of the weapon. Only 39 countries have not joined yet, and these include two of the original signatories – Poland and the Marshall Islands – as well as major powers such as China, India, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.

“Despite the absence of important countries, the norm banning antipersonnel mines is firmly taking hold,” said Stephen Goose, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Arms Division and member of the ICBL’s Management Committee. In 2007, only two governments – Burma and Russia – have used antipersonnel mines, and trade has been almost non-existent.

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British teddy teacher pardoned in Sudan

Filed under: News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 17:10 PDT

Teacher Gillian Gibbons is to be released from prison in Sudan after she was jailed for allowing children in her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Mrs Gibbons was jailed for 15 days by a court in Sudan.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir pardoned her after a meeting with two British Muslim peers – Lord Ahmed and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi.

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US Supreme Court to consider–again–whether Guantanamo prisoners may challenge detention.

Filed under: Human Rights,News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 17:00 PDT

This week, the Supreme Court will consider–again–whether prisoners held at Guantanamo have the right to go to court to challenge their detention.

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Africa: “Political Will” Needed to Change Climate

Filed under: Environment,News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 16:04 PDT

Johannesburg — Officials stressed the need for “political will” to stem the impact of global warming as the United Nations Climate Change Conference got underway on the Indonesian island of Bali on 3 December.

The joint meeting of the 192 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 177 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol are expected to prepare the ground for a new deal on climate change to be put in place after 2012.

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Three nonviolent protests in the West Bank

Filed under: Middle East — Catherine Morris @ 16:03 PDT

Residents of a number of villages in the Ramallah area organized a protest joined by a number of International and Israeli peace activists at Highway 443, on Friday after the noon prayer. Protesters carried anti-racism signs and Palestinian flags, and demanded that the Israeli authorities allow them to use this road that passes through the villagers’ land.

[You Tube video clips]

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Pakistan: American human rights activists on 24-hour vigil outside Aitzaz’s house

Filed under: Human Rights,News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 14:55 PDT

American human rights activists started a 24-hour vigil at Supreme Court Bar Association president Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan’s residence at 12:00pm on Sunday to protest Aitzaz’s detention. The SCBA president’s house has been designated a ‘sub-jail’ with him inside. Americans Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry, members of the Global Exchange and women’s peace group Code Pink, plan to continue their vigil till today (Monday).

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Cambodia: Justice too long delayed

Filed under: Cambodia — Catherine Morris @ 14:54 PDT

CAMBODIA – On A clear tropical morning last week, the police arrived at a villa here and arrested Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, carefully explaining legal procedures to the elderly Khmer Rouge leaders. It had been nearly 30 years since the overthrow of the regime of the infamous “killing fields,” in which an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians perished.

Yet in all those years no one had been held accountable for one of the worst crimes against humanity of the last century. Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader, died a free man in 1998. Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister, and Ieng Thirith, the former minister of social affairs, both close associates of Pol Pot, had lived openly under an amnesty granted them in 1996 — one likely to be raised in their trials for crimes against humanity. They are among five Khmer Rouge leaders, regarded as the most culpable for the killing fields of those still alive, who are to be tried by a special court created with United Nations assistance. The tribunal held its first open hearing last week. But this trial comes far too late. The decades of impunity have already taken a heavy toll on attitudes toward law and justice.

I covered the rise of the Khmer Rouge and was in Cambodia for two harrowing weeks once they were in power. In the years that followed, I was appalled at the ability of the leaders to avoid prosecution…

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10,000 Homeless in BC: “Now there is a recognition that something needs to be done.”

Filed under: Human Rights,News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 14:54 PDT

More than 10,580 British Columbians are homeless this winter, according to a survey of estimates compiled by the New Democratic Party. And the ranks of the unsheltered are growing fastest not in the province’s largest cities, but in B.C.’s booming exurbs such as Abbotsford and Whistler…

“In Abbotsford, we have what economists would call an ideal economy: High wages. Low unemployment. Affordable living,” said Ron Van Wyc, program director for B.C.’s Mennonite Central Committee. “So for a long time, I think there was a public perception that we didn’t have a homeless problem here.”…

“As a community, I think we’ve moved through the phase of denial,” Van Wyc said. “Now there is a recognition that something needs to be done.”

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UN: New Post to Combat Violence Against Children

Filed under: Human Rights,News Watch Blog — Catherine Morris @ 14:53 PDT

The UN General Assembly’s decision today to establish a special representative to the secretary-general on violence against children is a welcome step toward combating this worldwide problem, said a broad coalition of human rights groups and child rights advocates.

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