Tag Archive | Human rights

Saudi Arabian women gain right to vote

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has announced women will be allowed to vote in the country and run for municipal elections there. The modifications will apply from 2012.

Abdullah made this announcement at the start of a new Shura Council term. In a speech, the king said “we refuse to marginalise women in society in all roles that comply with sharia” and so made the decision “to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from next term”.

Abdullah clarified that female adults “will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote.” Such changes are to be put in place “according to Islamic principles,” he said. Muslim women, he continued, “must not be marginalised in opinion or advice”.

Activists have sought women’s right to vote in Saudi Arabia for years. As it stands, women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive, nor travel without male permission, based on Sunni Islam principles.

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On this day May 18, 1652

Rhode Island passes the first law in North America making slavery illegal. Slavery is a form of forced labor in which people are considered to be, or treated as, the property of others.

Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to receive compensation (such as wages).

Evidence of slavery predates written records, and has existed to varying extents, forms and periods in almost all cultures and continents. In some societies, slavery existed as a legal institution or socio-economic system, but today it is formally outlawed in nearly all countries. Nevertheless, the practice continues in various forms around the world. Read More…

On this day April 30, 2004

The New Yorker magazine posted an article and supporting pictures online, postdated May 10, detailing accounts of torture and abuse by American personnel of prisoners held at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq.

The Economist May 8th 2004

The Economist

Beginning in 2004, accounts of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, including torture, sodomy and homicide of prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (also known as Baghdad Correctional Facility) came to public attention.

These acts were committed by personnel of the 372nd Military Police Company of the United States Army together with additional US governmental agencies.

As revealed by the 2004 Taguba Report, a criminal investigation by the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command had already been underway since 2003 where many soldiers of the 320th Military Police Battalion had been charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with prisoner abuse. Read More…

Mongolia announced a moratorium on executions

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj has announced a moratorium on executions, and will begin to seek its abolition.

Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj

Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj

On January 14, 2010, in a speech to parliament, Elbegdorj announced that he would pardon all persons sentenced to death, stating that most countries in the world had abolished the death penalty, and Mongolia should follow suit. He also suggested that the death penalty be replaced with a 30 year prison sentence.

The decision was controversial: when Elbegdorj finished his speech, representatives of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party refused to join in the applause, which is customary after a presidential address to parliament.

Human rights groups welcomed the move, with Amnesty International expressing hope that Mongolia will vote in favour of an upcoming United Nations resolution calling for an end to Capital punishment.

It also urged other nations in the region to abolish the death penalty. Read More…

Ugandan president distances himself from anti-gay bill

The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has distanced himself from a controversial bill in the Parliament that would make certain acts of homosexuality punishable by death.

Yoweri Museveni

Until President Museveni publicly spoke out, this proposal was widely supported by the ruling majority party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), and, as a result, was expected to easily pass with a significant number of votes in its favor.

In a nation where homosexuality is already a criminal offense punishable by up to fourteen years in jail, this bill would raise that penalty to life in prison.

It would also dole out the death penalty for any offense categorized as “aggravated homosexuality”—meaning a case in which one of the participants is either a minor, HIV-positive, or a “serial offender.” Read More…

UK’s Terrorism Act in breach of human rights

An international court in Strasbourg issued a ruling yesterday that powers allowing UK police to stop and search anyone without reason are in breach of European law.

European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights deemed powers contained in the Terrorism Act 2000 denied the human right of privacy.

Under the European Convention of Human Rights people in the UK are granted the right to privacy, although their government felt that the threat of terrorism meant that the breach of this was justifiable and allowable under exemptions in the Convention.

Previously, the powers have been unsuccessfully challenged before the English and Welsh High Court, upheld by those nations’ Court of Appeals and finally upheld again before the UK’s House of Lords. Read More…

On this day January 6, 1941

During his State of the Union Address, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented his Four Freedoms as fundamental freedoms humans everywhere in the world ought to enjoy.freedom_of_speech

In an address also known as the Four Freedoms speech, FDR proposed four points as fundamental freedoms humans “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy:

  1. Freedom of speech and expression
  2. Freedom of religion
  3. Freedom from want
  4. Freedom from fear

His inclusion of the latter two freedoms went beyond the traditional American Constitutional values protected by the First Amendment, and endorsed a right to economic security and an internationalist view of foreign policy that have come to be central tenets of modern American liberalism. Read More…