UN’s Human Rights Judgements Tend to be Selective

By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

SINGAPORE (IDN) - Making a statement during its latest session in Geneva, UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein lamented that many of their member states do not tolerate criticism and scrutiny and there is an increasing trend of governments moving to restrict and persecute voices of civil society.

“I, together with many of my colleagues at the office, feel exhausted and angry,” Zeid said. “Exhausted, because the system is barely able to cope, given the resources available to it, while human misery accelerates . . . And angry, because it seems that little that we say will change this. Unless we change dramatically in how we think and behave as international actors.”


Close the Eritrean Embassies Not The Borders

By Mirjam van Reisen* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BRUSSELS (IDN) - Even though the military regime has closed the border and practices a shoot-to-kill policy to stop people fleeing, nearly every tenth Eritrean has fled the country for political reasons or belongs to the Eritrean diaspora. With over 200,000 having sought refuge abroad or chosen to live overseas recently, more than ten per cent of the population seems to prefer to live abroad.

In fact, according to Dutch Minister Fred Teeven, there has been a rapid increase of refugees during the last months. In 2013 the Netherlands received one thousand Eritrean refugees in total. Meanwhile, the number of asylum seekers arriving in the Netherlands from Syria and Eritrea has gone up from 1,000 a month in February and March to around 1,000 a week.


Maldives Lifts Moratorium As Death Penalty Declines

By Richard Johnson | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

GENEVA (IDN) - Since the United Nations General Assembly’s landmark vote in 2007 calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty, the trend against capital punishment has become stronger and stronger. An estimated 160 countries have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it.

While welcoming these developments, UN Secretary-General Ben Ki-moon has deplored the fact that many States still execute people with little regard to due process. “I am also deeply concerned that some States with long-standing de facto moratoriums have suddenly resumed executions, or are considering reintroduction of the death penalty in their legislation,” Ban said at an event organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on April 24.


Disposable Consumer Goods At High Human Costs

By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) - Hundreds of thousands around the world demonstrate for better working conditions and fair wages on the International Labour Day. However, when May 1 is over, many of these demonstrators go back to their daily reckless consumption patterns, which consider practically all consumer goods as disposable, and therefore support international corporations, which exploit workers and poison the environment.

The garment industry is a most illustrative example of the follies of modern-times consumerism: Take Bella, a German girl living near the city of Bremen: Several times each year, Bella makes a shopping spree to a local fashion store and comes back loaded with clothes.

The store Bella regularly visits belongs to Primark, the Ireland-based clothing retailer, which due to its aggressive price policies has become a European leader in the sector. As Primark announces itself, it is “Adored by fashion fans and value seekers alike (and) is widely established as the destination store for keeping up with the latest looks without breaking the bank.”


UNHRC - Part II: Prioritising Economic Aspects Of Human Rights

By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SINGAPORE (IDN) - “As a result of the financial crisis, the ability of individuals to exercise their human rights and that of States to fulfill their obligations to protect human rights has diminished,” noted Bat-Erdene Ayuush, Head of the Right to Development Section at the UN Human Rights Office speaking at a UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) panel discussion at last year.

But, at its 25th session from March 3 to 28 in Geneva, only two out of about 100 reports tabled, address the economic and development aspects of human rights. Almost all other reports address individual rights specific to countries, rather than collective rights of people.


UNHRC - Part I: Navi Pillay Faulted For Abuse Of Power

By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SINGAPORE (IDN) - UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) head Navi Pillay’s current campaign against Sri Lanka over alleged human rights violations – along with similar campaigns against Libya and Syria earlier – could jeopardize the cause of human rights around the world, analysts say.

Pillay released a report in February calling for an international investigation into alleged war crimes when the Sri Lankan armed forces crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a final battle in May 2009.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Envoy in Geneva conveying the Sri Lankan Government’s response to Pillay’s report stated that the UN High Commissioner’s recommendations, “reflect the preconceived, politicised and prejudicial agenda which she has relentlessly pursued with regard to Sri Lanka”, and in a 18-page document pinpointed her double standards accusing her of giving “scant or no regard to the domestic processes ongoing in Sri Lanka”.


The Lampedusa Tragedy: Why Sons Could Not Mourn Their Mothers

By Mirjam van Reisen* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BRUSSELS (IDN) - In the early morning of October 3 a tourist was enjoying the beautiful quiet beach of the Italian Mediterranean Island when three swimmers appeared. Three African young men frantically asked for help. They had left their mothers behind in a ship on sea that was on fire.


‘Lampedusa’ Forces EU Asylum Policy Overhaul

By Mirjam van Reisen* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BRUSSELS (IDN) - The Italian government has published the names of the occupants of the boat that drowned near Lampedusa on October 3. All those on the list appear to be Eritreans. At the weekend hundreds of bodies were recovered, washed ashore on the Italian island of Lampedusa. The European Union is soul-searching and identifying the problems of its increasingly repressive refugee and asylum policy.

A meeting of Ministers of Home Affairs has been called in Luxemburg to consider a package of measures, in a first response to the Lampedusa tragedy. Observers are pointing out that the effect of the European policy to effectively control the ‘safe routes’, forces the most desperate refugees to take ever bigger risks in their attempt to reach safety.


Upsurge in Support for Death Penalty Abolition

By J C Suresh | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

TORONTO (IDN) - There are miles and miles to go before capital punishment is at last accepted as a remnant of the gory past and abolished. But indications are that it is slowly on its way out. Amnesty International has welcomed an upsurge in global support for abolition of the death penalty, after the UN General Assembly (UNGA) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

In the vote on December 20, the fourth such vote by the plenary session of the UNGA since 2007, 111 states voted for the resolution – an increase of two from the last vote in 2010. There were 41 votes against, with 34 abstentions.


Women Fight for Rights in New Egypt

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani*
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis**

CAIRO (IDN | GCC) - Throughout the course of Egypt's January 25 Revolution, which culminated in the ouster of longstanding President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, female protesters stood on the frontlines of the uprising alongside their male counterparts. But as Egyptians continue to celebrate the downfall of Mubarak's oppressive regime, many female activists say the lot of women hasn't improved – either socially or politically – in the post-Mubarak era.


Libya: The Fight for Women's Rights Goes On

By Mel Frykberg*
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis**

TRIPOLI (IDN | GCC) - Following the Libyan revolution, in which women played a crucial part, and the participation of large numbers of female citizens in the July 2012 elections, Libyan women are now looking forward to a partnership and full equality with their male counterparts.

"Libyan women were instrumental in the country choosing a liberal and progressive government in the recent elections as many of them voted for the winning National Forces Alliance (NFA) of Mahmoud Jibril," said Nadine Nasrat, from the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).