giovedì 31 maggio 2012

Bhutan’s first woman Gup leads the way for a new generation of women leaders.

Namgay Peldon was elected as the Gup of Tashiding Gewog in Dagana Dzongkhag. Currently Bhutanese women have 14 percent representation in Parliament and 2 percent at the local government level. Photo Credit © Gurpreet Singh/UN Women

Thimpu/ New Delhi, 17 April 2012: When 28-year-old Namgay Peldon was elected as the Gup of Tashiding Gewog in Bhutan’s Dagana district, she made history of sorts, becoming the first woman Gup or block leader in Bhutan after the nation first went to polls in 2008. Gewogs are official administrative units in Bhutan, each headed by a Gup.
The feat adds another feather in Bhutan’s cap. Three years before her election, the Himalayan kingdom ended more than a century of royal rule and moved towards a democratic system of governance – a peaceful transition that is almost unprecedented in global history.

martedì 29 maggio 2012

Pakistan: Still no justice a year on from journalist’s killing.

A year on from the abduction and assassination of reporter Saleem Shahzad, Pakistan must take urgent steps to bring his killers to justice and properly investigate claims of intimidation against journalists including by intelligence services, Amnesty International said.

“Shahzad’s killing last year highlighted the perils faced by journalists in Pakistan,” said Polly Truscott, South Asia director at Amnesty International.

“Pakistan remains one of the most dangerous countries for media workers with at least three journalists killed in the past five months. Last year at least nine lost their lives.”

Just two days prior to his abduction in Islamabad on 29 May 2011, Shahzad published an article about an attack at a Pakistan Naval base.

He alleged Navy personnel sympathetic to al-Qaida had facilitated the attack. On 31 May, his body was found several kilometres outside Islamabad showing signs of torture.

In October 2010, Shahzad had told colleagues that in a meeting with Inter-Services Intelligence agency’s (ISI) media wing, he felt he had been threatened, because of his reporting on al-Qaida infiltration into Pakistan’s armed forces.

The ISI is the premier intelligence service of Pakistan’s armed forces.

In its report published in January this year, a government inquiry into Shahzad’s murder said it was unable to identify his killers. It speculated that any of a number of state, non-state or foreign actors, including al-Qaida or the Taleban, could have been responsible.

Some journalists testified to receiving threats from the ISI, including the same ISI officials implicated by Shahzad.

The inquiry also revealed a trail of missing evidence that could have helped identify the perpetrators, including Shahzad’s mobile phone log, the vehicle he had been abducted from, and footage from the security cameras across Islamabad, including near his home.

Not a single witness to his abduction came forward, even though the route from Shahzad’s home to a TV station where he had been due to conduct an interview passed through several police checkpoints.

 “There was a sophisticated, well-organised attempt by Shahzad’s killers to cover their tracks - all the more reason why Pakistan’s intelligence services, and especially the ISI, must be thoroughly investigated,” said Truscott.

The inquiry had criticised police for failing to question adequately the ISI about Shahzad. Though the panel itself allowed the ISI representatives to submit prepared statements, and subjected them to limited questioning.

“No government official should be above the law and they should be subjected to proper scrutiny whether the allegation of corruption by civil authorities or abductions by the intelligence services,” said Truscott.

Amnesty International has documented attacks on journalists in Pakistan by the Taleban and al-Qaida, political parties, criminal gangs and security forces with the failure to prosecute fostering a climate of impunity.

“Pakistan must bring all perpetrators to justice in trials that meet international fair trial standards, without recourse to the death penalty,” Truscott added,.

“Moreover Amnesty International has called on the authorities to uphold internationally recognised human rights protections such as such as the right to information, freedom of speech, and right to life that are also enshrined in the Pakistan Constitution.”

Rapporto annuale Amnesty 2012.

Qui la panoramica sui paesi di Asia e Pacifico: .

sabato 19 maggio 2012

Pakistan: Politician threatened, as defends minorities: Saleem Khursheed Khokhar - URGENT ACTION

Regional parliamentarian Saleem Khursheed Khokhar has received death threats over his calls for Hindu women and girls to be protected from abduction and forced conversion to Islam.

Saleem Khursheed Khokhar, a Christian, is a member of Pakistan’s Sindh Provincial Assembly and President of the Sindh chapter of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance. On 18 April, after Supreme Court hearings into the possible forced conversion and forced marriage of a Hindu woman, Saleem Khokhar spoke to the media criticising the abduction and forced conversion of women from religious minority communities. Two days later, he received a threatening text message saying that Pakistan had been created only for Muslims and only Muslims could live there peacefully, and no one else would be allowed to do so. This is the latest in a series of threats he has received since last year for defending minority rights. He is the most senior politician to receive death threats for defending minority rights since the 2011 assassinations of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer and Federal Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti.

Saleem Khokhar made a complaint about the threat, the day he received it, to the Station House Officer at Clifton Police Station in Karachi and a First Information Report (FIR) was registered. However, Saleem Khokhar told Amnesty International, and wrote to senior government officials, that the police had failed to investigate the threat beyond registering the FIR. He believes the handful of security guards assigned to him by the authorities are too few and have not been adequately vetted to ensure they bear no animosity towards him, as they are Muslim and he is Christian. In January 2011 Governor Taseer was murdered by one of his own security guards who believed Taseer had committed blasphemy by speaking out against laws that are often used to target religious minorities. Minister Bhatti was also assassinated, over his own criticism of the issue, in March 2011. Saleem Khokhar received death threats last year for supporting Taseer and Bhatti.

Please write immediately in English, Urdu or your own language calling on the authorities to:
Urgently provide Saleem Khursheed Khokhar and his family with adequate protection and ensure the guards they provide are properly vetted;
Promptly investigate all threats received by Saleem Khokhar and his family, and by anyone involved in campaigning against forced conversions and forced marriages;
Bring to justice anyone responsible for threats and other abuse against religious minorities, including forced conversion and forced marriage, in trials which meet international standards of fairness.

Prime Minister
Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani
Prime Minister House
Fax: +92 51 922 1596 E-mail: secretary@cabinet.
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Chief Minister, Sindh
Qaim Ali Shah
Interior Minister of Sindh
Dr. Zia ud Din Ahmed Road
Karachi, Sindh
Fax: +92 21 992 02000
Salutation: Dear Chief Minister Shah
Inspector General Sindh Police
Mushtaq Shah Sindh Police
Head Office I. I. Chundrigar Road
Karachi, Sindh
Fax: +92 21 99 212 051
Salutation: Dear Mr Shah

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.


ADditional Information

Hindu student Rinkle Kumari disappeared from her home in Mirpur Mathelo, Sindh province on 24 February. Later that day her parents received a phone call from a local Muslim cleric claiming Kumari had converted to Islam. By that evening she had been married to a local Muslim man. Relatives claim Kumari was forced into the conversion and marriage. The Supreme Court intervened in the case and on 18 April ordered that Kumari and two other girls allegedly forcibly converted and married to Muslim men be allowed to decide whether they wished to remain with their husbands or return to their families. It also ordered that they be provided with police protection. They were kept in a shelter during court proceedings but there were reports that they were threatened by phone. All three women said they wished to remain with their husbands. However, human rights activists criticized the Court for expecting the women to make an immediate decision while ignoring the general climate of fear and intimidation faced by religious minorities, especially disadvantaged sections of the Hindu community in Sindh province.

Saleem Khursheed Khokhar received the death threat after his statements in support of Hindu relatives of the three women following Supreme Court hearings on 18 April. The Kumari case received significant media attention in Pakistan and highlighted the fears of human rights abuse faced by Pakistan’s Hindu community. Along with the threat of forced conversion and forced marriage faced by Hindu women, Hindu traders have been targeted in a string of abductions for ransom in Sindh and neighbouring Balochistan province. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, since 2011 up to 34 Hindus have been kidnapped from Balochistan and a further 50 families have fled the province.

The Pakistan government has repeatedly failed to respect and protect the human rights of religious minorities and those who have defended their rights. Police frequently fail to sufficiently record and investigate complaints, and justice is impeded by judicial bias against religious minorities. In 2009, a year after coming to power, the current government pledged to review “laws detrimental to religious harmony.” But it fell silent after the assassinations of Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer, and Federal Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti in January and March 2011 respectively because of their criticism of blasphemy laws that disproportionately target religious minorities.

Under Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Pakistan is a state party, everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression. Article 26 provides for equality of all people before the law, without discrimination. Article 27 provides that members of ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities “shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.” This article requires the state to take positive measures to protect religious minorities against acts committed by the state or by non-state actors.

Name: Saleem Khursheed Khokhar
Gender m/f: m

UA: 139/12 Index: ASA 33/004/2012 Issue Date: 17 May 2012

martedì 15 maggio 2012

Afghan Women to NATO: Don’t Bargain Our Rights Away - By Jungwon Kim

afghan women at school

World leaders, dignitaries and reporters will convene in Chicago next week for the 2012 NATO summit, and among the urgent questions they will consider is that of Afghanistan’s future after the 2014 withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops.
Yet Afghanistan’s female leaders were denied a place at the table for these critical discussions—despite Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s promise that the United States would not forsake the rights of Afghan women.


giovedì 10 maggio 2012

MALDIVES: Six arrested during MDP protest against prosecution of party supporters.

Police arrested six people during the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) demonstration held on Tuesday evening to protest against ongoing court cases against its supporters.
According to the party, the Prosecutor General (PG) has filed charges against 60 MDP members for obstruction of police duty during the party’s three-month series of protests. If charges are proved, the accused may be jailed for six months or fined up to Rf 12,000 (US$800) each.
The Criminal Court on Tuesday held hearings against 10 people charged with obstruction of police duty during an MDP rally on March 1.
The six arrested on Tuesday were also detained for obstruction of police duty.
The MDP has been campaigning for fresh elections in 2012 after former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged he was deposed in a coup d’état, carried out by mutinous elements of the police and military on February 7.
Speaking to MDP members on Tuesday night, Nasheed said he was “concerned about the arrest and prosecution of protesters exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly.”
The MDP continues to rally against prosecution of its supporters with a peaceful demonstration held outside the Supreme Court building at 2:00 pm on Wednesday. At time of press MDP supporters were also gathering outside the Justice Building where the country’s lower courts are housed.


TAKE ACTION NOW: Protect the Rights of Nepalese Migrant Workers.

25,000 Nepalese a month migrate abroad for work, mostly to the Gulf States or Malaysia. Migrants make an important financial contribution to Nepal’s economy. Currently the laws set out in the Foreign Employment Act of 2007 are not adequately enforced. This has allowed unscrupulous recruitment agencies and money lenders to deceive and take advantage of prospective migrants, leading to trafficking for exploitation or forced labor. 

Call on Nepal’s political parties to ensure that laws are enforced to protect Nepalese migrant workers from exploitation, forced labor, and trafficking. 


martedì 8 maggio 2012

NEPAL - Sgomberi forzati.

Sgomberi case abusive sul fiume in Nepal.

Almeno 200 abitazioni abusive sono state rimosse dalle forze di polizia nepalesi a Kathmandu. Numerose famiglie che vivono sotto la soglia di povertà avevano adibito le sponde del fiume Bagmati a campo di fortuna dove costruire le loro baracche, da cui sono stati forzatamente allontanati per permetterne l'abbattimento. Al tentativo delle forze dell'ordine di eseguire l'evacuazione sono seguiti violenti scontri in cui dozzine di persone sono rimaste ferite e almeno venti sono stati arrestate.


Rights Defenders and victims families' single  voice.
Human Rights Defenders and representatives of conflict victim's families emphasized that law or mechanism lacking the minimum international human rights standards aimed at establishing truth and delivering justice will not be acceptable to them.
In a talk program organized by Amnesty International Nepal on the 3rd May 2012 titled 'No Amnesty but Punishment to the Perpetrators: Ensure Justice to the Victims', Chaireerson of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Kedar Nath Upadhyaya has urged Government to adopt internationally approved provisions in the soon-to-be formed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission on Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CID). He said that Government should implement the recommendations made by the NHRC in this regards.
On the occasion, veteran human rights activist and former Chairperson of AI Nepal, Krishna Pahadi said that the present government is like a violator of human rights. He also blamed to the political parties that 'all are forgetting their commitments made by them in front of people.'
Binaya Dhwaj Chand leader of Nepali Congress and conflict victim himself said, "The government and political parties are doing nothing in favour of conflict victims". He further added,' Maoist is main perpetrators of the past conflict but they are getting relief package from the state.
Chairperson of National Network of Families of the Disappeared and Missing (NEFAD), Ram Kumar Bhandari said 'we are not worry on the agreement  to merge TRC and CID but we should get justice. It is the important part.'
He warned 'truth without justice will not only be called into question, but this will not be acceptable to us. The community of victims will be compelled to reject such meaningless transitional justice laws and mechanisms.'
On the occasion, president of Conflict Victim Orphan Society  Suman Adhikari said ' instead of making the bill victim-friendly and that of international standard, the merger of commissions and granting of enormous powers to the commissioners has led to the suspicion that the commission would not be able to address victim’s demand for justice.'
Likewise, Chairperson of AI Nepal Hem Kumar Khadka, Advisors Krishna Kandel and Lokesh Dhakal, Chair person of Human Rights and Peace Society, Hom Kant Choulagain, National Executive Committee Member of AI Nepal Yashoda Kumari Upadhyaya and others also shed light on the subject matter.

lunedì 7 maggio 2012

Amnesty, NGOs concerned about Maldives PR “whitewash”: Independent By Minivan News | May 7th, 2012.

An international lobbying firm, based in London, has accepted a commission to boost the reputation of the regime that toppled the first democratically elected President of the Maldives, writes Oliver Wright for the UK’s Independent newspaper.
“Ruder Finn has been condemned for taking the contract – thought to be worth £300,000 – to boost the image of the Maldives in the UK and America.
Mohamed Nasheed, the elected former leader, was made to quit in a military and police coup in February. He was replaced by Mohammed Waheed Hassan – who, it is claimed, is backed by the ex-dictator who ran the Maldives for 30 years.
In the weeks since the change of power, Amnesty International has denounced violence by the security forces against peaceful protesters. In March at least six protesters were injured, some seriously, when police and military officers attacked around 300 MDP protesters in the capital, Malé. Amnesty said this was part of a wider pattern of attacks on supporters of the former President Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party.
In a pitch, won by Ruder Finn, the new Government said it was looking for a firm to provide both lobbying and public relations expertise. The new regime said it wanted to “renew the Maldives image in major countries” and create “an alliance of support for the Maldives.” It wanted to “seed” positive stories about the islands in the media.
It expected the company to “arrange briefings to build links at various levels with the UK, US and major European governments.”
It would also be expected to “leverage outcomes from relationships with governments, academics and NGOs”.
Abbas Faiz, South Asian researcher for Amnesty International, said it had significant concerns about the contract.
“If a government hires any firm to whitewash human rights violations with impunity we would be very concerned. I was in the Maldives in March and the level of atrocity that we witnessed was entirely different from what we were being told by the Government.
“We will be watching the activities of Ruder Finn… if we have concerns about their role we will be raising them.”

sabato 5 maggio 2012

SRI LANKA - Where Being a Journalist Can Be Dangerous to Your Health.

Sri Lanka: Many people died in Sri Lanka’s long civil war, and journalists covering the war and its aftermath have also fallen victim to killings, imprisonment and enforced disappearance.  Government officials have used state-controlled media to assail the country’s journalists as “traitors.”  Journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, whose work was critical of the government, went missing after leaving work one day in 2010.  His wife told the BBC that “he was abducted by people who did not like the truth.”

Is the US Abandoning Afghan Women? - By Govind Acharya.

President Obama made an announced visit to Afghanistan on May 1 to sign an agreement intended to lead to a pullback of US troops from Afghanistan by 2014. The document is very specific on issues around the arrangements related to security and interestingly, trade and commerce but inadequate when talk to turns to human rights in general and specifically women’s rights.


mercoledì 2 maggio 2012

2 May 2012 - World Press Freedom Day: Attacks against journalists around the world.

Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world – with at least 15 killed in 2011 alone.

This year, on 17 January, Mukarram Aatif, a reporter with Dunya TV and Deewa radio, was shot dead by members of the Pakistan Taleban while performing his evening prayers in the town of Shabqada, about 30 kilometres from Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

A Taleban spokesperson later said the group had warned Aatif “a number of times to stop anti-Taleban reporting, but he didn't do so. He finally met his fate".