Displaying items by tag: human rights

The Government's Rwanda bill faced fresh setbacks in the House of Lords, with Labour-backed amendments passing despite previous reversals in the Commons. These amendments include exceptions for children and adherence to international law. Rishi Sunak has faced ongoing resistance since the proposal was announced in April 2022. While the government's majority suggests amendments may be overturned, the margin of defeat narrowed as additional peers were enlisted. The bill must reconcile differences between the Commons and Lords before becoming law, a process known as parliamentary ping-pong. Some peers emphasised the importance of international and domestic laws, including human rights and modern slavery legislation, in their amendments. They also supported measures requiring independent verification of Rwanda's safety and exemptions for individuals who had assisted the UK military or government abroad. Sunak has vowed to curb illegal immigration, emphasising the bill's role in this effort.

Published in British Isles
Friday, 01 March 2024 10:00

Russia: human rights campaigner jailed

Oleg Orlov, a veteran human rights campaigner, has been sentenced to two and a half years in jail for criticising Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict. Orlov, 70, served as a leader in the Memorial human rights organisation, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022 but was subsequently banned in Russia. He faced charges of ‘discrediting’ the Russian army by claiming it was engaged in ‘mass murder’ in Ukraine. Orlov staunchly defended his actions in court, lambasting the Russian state's descent into authoritarianism and fascism. The closure of Memorial marked a significant escalation in Vladimir Putin's crackdown on dissenting voices. Orlov's imprisonment reflects a broader trend of silencing anti-war activists. In his closing statement, Orlov paid tribute to Alexei Navalny, who died in prison on 9 February: he will be buried in Moscow on 1 March. on 1 March.

Published in Europe

The Christian Institute, through its Let Us Pray campaign, is defending the normal activities of churches against potential government bans on so-called 'conversion therapy’. This term encompasses various practices, including abusive ones already illegal. LGBT campaigners seek to criminalise even biblical preaching, prayer, pastoral care, and parenting that does not endorse liberal theology. The Christian Institute has engaged solicitors in England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland to prepare for a potential judicial review if such bans restrict religious freedom. Legal advice warns that an overly broad ban could breach the European Convention on Human Rights and lead to legal challenges against the government. The Christian Institute has previously succeeded in judicial reviews against UK governments in 2007 and 2016. However,the controversial legislation was left out of the King's speech: see

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 09 November 2023 21:56

Russia sentences another Jehovah’s Witness

A court in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia has sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) follower to seven years in prison on charges of ‘extremism’. Yevgeny Bushev had been under house arrest for over a year on allegations of continuing ‘the illegal activities of a banned religious organisation’. In 2017 the Supreme Court declared the JW movement to be extremist, banning its estimated 400 branches across the country. Bushev is the 15th JW follower from the region to be prosecuted. The prosecution’s witness was an employee of the National Guard (Rosgvardia) who had ‘shown interest in the Bible’: a linguistic examination concluded that Bushev had ‘tempted’ him to accept the JW faith when responding to questions about religion. International human rights NGOs have condemned Russia’s crackdown on JW followers in the years since the ban, and in June 2022 the European Court of Human Rights said that Russia had violated over 1,400 followers' right to religious freedom.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 28 September 2023 22:49

Youth vs Europe: 'unprecedented' climate trial

Six young people from wildfire and heatwave-affected areas in Portugal have taken 32 European governments to court, accusing them of violating their human rights by not taking sufficient action on climate change. The case, filed in September 2020 against all the EU member states and also Britain, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, and Turkey, is the largest climate case ever heard by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. A ruling is expected in the first half of 2024. The applicants argue that the failure to address climate change endangers their rights to life and physical and mental well-being. One of the applicants, 15-year-old Andre Oliveira, highlighted the impact of heat extremes on his ability to exercise and spend time outdoors, leading to sleep difficulties and worsening conditions due to weak climate policies.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 21 September 2023 21:48

USA: Biden criticised for sidelining human rights

From business and strategic perspectives, Joe Biden's recent visits to Vietnam and India will likely be seen as bolstering ties with countries that can help Washington to counter China’s growing might. But for rights advocates, Biden's travels are a huge disappointment, given his administration's vow to prioritise human rights when taking office in 2021. Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the government's Hindu majoritarian ideology is reflected in bias in the justice system, and authorities have intensified efforts to silence activists and journalists through politically motivated charges. Meanwhile, Vietnam is holding at least 159 political prisoners - people imprisoned for peacefully exercising basic civil and political rights - and at least 22 others were in detention pending eventual trial before a court controlled by the ruling Communist Party. In the first eight months of 2023 alone, HRW said, courts have sentenced at least fifteen people to long prison terms in violation of their rights to a fair trial. Reporters asked Biden in Vietnam if he was putting US strategic interests above rights and replied: ‘I’ve raised it (human rights) with every person I met with’.

But HRW said talking in private was not enough.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 14 September 2023 22:41

Vietnam: human rights defender released

Human rights defender Nguyen Bac Truyen and his wife Bui Kim Phuong arrived in Germany on the evening of 8 September after he was released from Gia Trung prison in Vietnam. Truyen, a Hoa Hao Buddhist and legal expert who provided pro bono legal assistance to families of political prisoners, victims of land grabs, and persecuted religious communities, was abducted by Vietnamese police in Ho Chi Minh City in July 2017. He was held in incommunicado arbitrary detention for nine months, and in April 2018 he was sentenced to eleven years in prison on charges of ‘carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the government’. Serious concerns were raised for his safety and wellbeing on many occasions during his imprisonment, including in May 2019 when he went on hunger strike along with three other prisoners of conscience in protest of the grievous ill-treatment of a fellow prisoner. Five other activists were sentenced at the same time as Truyen: two of them were released into exile in June 2018, but the other three are still in prison.

Published in Praise Reports
Thursday, 31 August 2023 21:07

Christians and workplace discrimination

The Catholic Union, Christian Institute, and Evangelical Alliance have written to the chair of the human rights committee, asking for religious freedom to be a ‘key part’ of a parliamentary inquiry into human rights at work. Catholic Union director Nigel Parker says that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a faithful Catholic in many workplaces in this country, and his concerns are shared by people from other denominations and other faiths. A Catholic Union survey found that almost five in ten workers do not feel able to talk about their faith openly with colleagues, with 41% of respondents saying they didn’t believe religious discrimination was given the same weight as age, race, sex, and sexuality discrimination. Although the inquiry's focus includes ‘freedom of thought, conscience, and religion’, they worry this won’t receive enough attention. They want a separate session discussing religious freedom at work to help shape the final recommendations for the Government.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 10 August 2023 21:52

Silent prayer near abortion facility

Adam Smith-Connor has pleaded not guilty to charges related to breaking a local ‘buffer zone’ around an abortion clinic and praying silently outside the medical facility. He was approached by police outside the clinic earlier this year. He thought he would not be prosecuted, as the statutory time-limit for pressing charges had elapsed. At his hearing on 9 August he said, ‘We are standing in the nation of the Magna Carta, the nation which has championed democracy and freedom. We have a history of upholding human rights we can be proud of and a respect for freedom that I fought to uphold when I served this country for twenty years in the army reserves, including in Afghanistan. Yet here I stand before you, being prosecuted for a thought crime.’ His legal team contend that freedom of thought is protected absolutely through the Human Rights Act and therefore, the local council has no power to prohibit silent prayer.

Published in British Isles

Nine women and seventeen children are taking the Australian government to court, arguing that Australia has ‘effective control’ of their detention and the power to set them free from Syria’s Roj refugee camp. These Australian wives, widows, and children of slain or jailed IS members claim a legal right to return to Australia. Most are in squalid and violent detention camps, some held for four years. Children have untreated shrapnel wounds, malnourishment, and serious mental illnesses. Some were born in the camp and know no life outside it. Save the Children Australia say that legal action was a last resort, but they were left with no choice but to take Australia’s government to court. Pray that the US-backed Kurdish SDF army and the refugee camp officials will actively cooperate in the release of these Australians as they did for other countries, including Denmark, USA, Germany, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands.

Published in Worldwide
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