Posts Tagged Human Rights

International Justice in Haiti and Tunisia?

Former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali - image courtesy of France 24

Should two former dictators, the Tunisian Ben Ali and the Haitian “Baby Doc” Duvalier, face trial in front of an international tribunal such as the International Criminal Court?

The idea has been discussed, albeit briefly, especially in the case of Ben Ali following his remarkable downfall caused by what is now known as the Jasmine Revolution. Isabelle Tallec, independent journalist who blogs at Esprit de Justice (in French – but with a Google Translate bar) about issues relating to international justice, reported a few days ago on the different calls for Ben Ali to be indicted in front of an international court.

Ms. Tallec writes:

Ce n’est encore qu’un mouvement embryonnaire, mais qui a trouvé ces derniers jours un prolongement judiciaire. Ben Ali tombé, des appels épars ont commencé à circuler sur Internet demandant à ce qu’il soit traduit en justice et réclamant une enquête sur les crimes allégués du régime déchu.

Certains émanent de groupes informels, déjà existants ou constitués pour l’occasion, d’autres, d’organisations plus structurées. Des pétitions parfois relayées par les médias français et qui pour la plupart sollicitent l’intervention de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI).

Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier Photo: REUTERS

While in Tunisia a dictator flees his country, in Haiti, a former dictator, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, returns to “help with [the] reconstruction” of his country, shattered by an ongoing humanitarian crisis since an earthquake devastated the country over a year ago. Whatever Baby Doc’s real reasons for returning to his broken home country are, he is now in turn in trouble with Haiti’s justice system, which has charged him with theft and corruption and is considering investigating alleged crimes against humanity committed during his tenure as the small nation’s despot.

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Dignity for All Students Act

An interesting piece of legislation was signed by the New York governor entitled the Dignity for All Students Act. The basic terms of the legislation is to protect students from bullying and harassment. The reason I mention this legislation however is because it is the first New York piece of legislation that directly refers to gender identity, and expression.

I just want to welcome this important piece of legislation that thanks to the tireless efforts of state lawmakers, and Governor Patterson makes students more safe. Due to this legislation students can now be protected legally for having to put up with relentless bullying  for a characteristics they can not help. Finally, New York has recognised these consequences that leave young individuals emotionally and/or physically damaged, with no option but taking their own lives. So I welcome this important piece of legislation.

However I would ask the question why has it took so long ? How long have individuals worried about expressing who they are in a so-called democracy. How many people can not express their true self? And how many lives have been taken under pressure of relentless abuse?

So thank you New York, but next time don’t take so long.

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Gaddafi’s Son Supports The ICC Against Bashir

This is going to be a short post, as I’m short on time, and I don’t really know what to think about this anyway. The Sudan Tribune reported yesterday that Gaddafi’s son, Saif Al-Islam, through the intermediary of his human rights group – the Arab Alliance For Democracy Development and Human Rights – expressed support for the prosecution of perpetrators of mass atrocities in Sudan, “irrespective of their positions“.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“August 11, 2010 (WASHINGTON) — A Libyan human right group headed by the son of Muammar Gaddafi has issued a statement last week calling for prosecuting perpetrators of war crimes in Darfur “irrespective of their positions” in what appears to be a subtle reference to the indictment of Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera website said that the statement by the Arab Alliance For Democracy, Development and Human Rights (ADDHR) coincided with a visit made by Bashir to Tripoli last Wednesday for talks with his Libyan counterpart.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide during Darfur’s seven-year conflict

“The Arab Alliance For Democracy, Development and Human Rights continues to monitor and follow the grave humanitarian situation in Darfur and the resulting suffering and serious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity,” said a statement by the group on their website.

“The continuation of humanitarian violations against the citizens of Darfur and subjecting them to the suffering, killing and displacement is a serious situation that requires condemnation and working to stop it,”.

“[The world] cannot continue to turn a blind eye to crimes committed against innocent people in Darfur by parties to the conflict [including] government and rebel factions. [The world] cannot continue to postpone the realization of justice and offering compliments to offenders irrespective of their positions. This requires all states, governments, organizations and human rights activists to show solidarity with this humanitarian issue and not siding with the devil’s advocates so that each party faces the results of their own actions,” the statements reads. (…)”

The article further explains that this is really a message sent by Tripoli to Bashir, as the relationship between Sudan and Libya has been rather tense lately.

I honestly don’t know what to think about this. Should I take it seriously or is this hypocrisy at its best? Or am I missing something?

You tell me.

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Justice and the US; immigration and disability

It turns out that people face greater injustice in the United States, well at least in regards to immigration. This is because individuals with mental disabilities are more likely to face erroneous deportation under the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The reason for this is the judicial system. In the US, immigrants have no right to free legal representation at their hearings. Normally this is bad, but the effects are compounded when these immigrants have mental disabilities, and are just unable to defend themselves and put across their reasons for seeking asylum. Read the rest of this entry »

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re Homosexuality and the International Community

This is just an update for those who read my earlier post about Homosexuality and the International Community.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission have received ECOSOC UN Status.

After their hard battle with seemingly never-ending deadlocks to their success, the ECOSOC voted in favour of the US lead resolution to grant the IGLHRC the status they have worked so hard for. The resolution came at a vote of 23 in favor, 13 against, and 13 abstentions and 5 absences. This vote makes the IGLHRC the tenth organization working primarily for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) human rights to receive UN Status. It is hoped this success is a big step to furthering Homosexual rights in the international community.

As Cary Alan Johnson stated

Today’s decision is an affirmation that the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have a place at the United Nations as part of a vital civil society community

So a big well done to International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission for winning their three-year battle.

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Asylum and Homosexuality

There was an interesting story in the Guardian today that restored my faith in the ability of the English judiciary. The case in question was an appeal to the now Supreme Court of the UK, and had to do with whether persecution because of one’s sexuality was a legitimate reason for getting asylum. In the original case, a man from Cameroon and another man from Iran, who were both gay, were refused asylum even though in Iran punishment for homosexual acts ranges from public flogging to execution, and in Cameroon jail sentences for homosexuality range from six months to five years. But according to the great Court of appeal it was an acceptable risk, because apparently these men could just pretend they were not in fact gay and live their lives as a lie.

Thank you for that pearl of wisdom.

However the Supreme Court has shown the progressive nature of the English culture and declared in its decision:

To compel a homosexual person to pretend that his sexuality does not exist or suppress the behavior by which to manifest itself is to deny his fundamental right to be who he is…Homosexuals are as much entitled to freedom of association with others who are of the same sexual orientation as people who are straight.

Well all I have to say is thank you Lord Hope, if this old middle/upper class male judge can recognize this fact maybe there is hope for the rest of the United Kingdom, and perhaps for the world to be equally as progressive.

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