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INDIA: Kashmiri Journalist Held Under Abusive Laws On Independent Media

#AceNewsReport – Feb.08: Police allege that Shah posted “anti-national” content on social media “glorifying terrorist activities, spreading fake news and instigating people.” The police have questioned and detained Shah multiple times in recent years for his writing.

#AceNewsDesk says Indian authorities have arrested the prominent Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah on politically motivated charges as part of the government’s crackdown on the media and civil society groups in Jammu and Kashmir, Human Rights Watch said today. Since 2019, at least 35 journalists in Kashmir have faced police interrogation, raids, threats, physical assault, or fabricated criminal cases for their reporting.

Fahad Shah, right, editor-in-chief of the Kashmir-based news website, The Kashmir Walla, in his office in Srinagar, India, January 21, 2022.
Fahad Shah, right, editor-in-chief of the Kashmir-based news website, The Kashmir Walla, in his office in Srinagar, India, January 21, 2022. © 2022 AP Photo/Dar Yasin, File

Shah, editor-in-chief of a leading Kashmir-based news site The Kashmir Walla, was arrested on February 4, 2022 and charged with sedition and support of terrorism after his site reported on a shootout in Pulwama in January in which security forces killed four people they claimed were militants.

“Fahad Shah’s arrest is only the latest attempt by the Indian government to frighten off the media for doing its job and reporting on abuses,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of ensuring justice for security force violations in Kashmir, the government is more interested in silencing those who bring these abuses to light.”

Shah’s arrest comes amid increasing harassment, threats, and prosecutions of journalists and human rights activists in Jammu and Kashmir. The government intensified its crackdown after it revoked the state’s special autonomous status in August 2019 and split it into two federally governed territories.

In January, the police arrested Sajad Gul, another journalist at the Kashmir Walla, on charges of criminal conspiracy after he reported on a protest against Indian authorities. But after Gul was granted bail, the police charged him under the draconian Public Safety Act to keep him in custody. The journalist Aasif Sultan has been in jail on terrorism charges since August 2018, after the police accused him of harboring militants. In October 2021, a freelance photojournalist, Manan Dar, was arrested under the abusive counterterrorism law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

In November, the authorities also arrested a prominent human rights activist, Khurram Parvez, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The authorities are increasingly using the counterterrorism law against activists, journalists, peaceful protesters, and critics of the government to silence dissent. The act contains a vague and overbroad definition of terrorism that encompasses a wide range of nonviolent political activity, including political protest by minority populations and civil society groups. In 2019, the government amended the law to grant officials the authority to designate an individual a “terrorist” without charge or a trial, putting the burden on the suspect to prove they are not a terrorist.

The authorities have ramped up raids on homes of journalists and activists, and confiscated their cell phones. In September, the police raided the homes of four Kashmiri journalists and confiscated their phones and laptops.

In January 2020, the government announced a new media policy in Jammu and Kashmir that gave more power to the authorities to censure news in the region. Since 2019, journalists have been routinely summoned to police stations for questions on their work and their social media posts, threatened with jail if their work criticizes the authorities, and pressured to self-censor. The Hindu correspondent Peerzada Ashiq, the Economic Times correspondent Hakeem Irfan, Basharat Masood of the Indian Express, and the Outlook correspondent Naseer Ganai are among those who have been summoned and questioned.

In April 2020, the police opened criminal investigations against Ashiq; Gowhar Geelani, another journalist; and Masrat Zahra, a photojournalist. In July 2020, the authorities questioned and detained Qazi Shibli, an editor previously held under the Public Safety Act. In recent months, the authorities have also increased scrutiny of independent journalists and freelancers reporting for major national and international media organizations, the news website Article 14 reported. Faced with raids, threats, and detention, many are fearful and compelled to self-censor, the report said.

The government has placed over 40 people, including 22 journalists, on lists instructing immigration authorities to stop them from traveling abroad, another news report said. In 2019, Geelani and Bilal Bhat, a rights activist, were prevented from traveling abroad.

In June, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of expression and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention expressed concernsover “alleged arbitrary detention and intimidation of journalists covering the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.” They noted that these violations “may be part of a broader pattern of silencing of independent reporting in Jammu and Kashmir, which in turn may ultimately deter other journalists and civil society more broadly from reporting on issues of public interest and human rights in the region.”

In October 2020, the Jammu and Kashmir government sealed the Srinagar office of the outspoken newspaper Kashmir Times in an apparent reprisal against its executive editor, Anuradha Bhasin, who filed a Supreme Court petition challenging the government’s telecommunications shutdown. The same month, the Jammu and Kashmir authorities also shut down Kashmir News Service, a local news agency.

Shah’s arrest has prompted condemnation from several journalism organizations and opposition politicians in Kashmir. The Editors Guild of India said Shah’s arrest was “part of a larger trend in Kashmir of security forces calling journalists for questioning and often detaining them, because of their critical reporting of the establishment.” Digipub, an association of several media bodies, said there was no indication that Shah was involved in anything unlawful and that the police had a record of intimidating ShahThe US-based Committee to Protect Journalistsalso called for his release, saying his arrest “shows Jammu and Kashmir authorities’ utter disregard for press freedom and the fundamental right of journalists to report freely and safely.”

“The Indian authorities in Kashmir should immediately release Fahad Shah and all journalists, activists, and critics jailed on politically motivated charges and stop harassing them with draconian laws,” Ganguly said. “When the government uses authoritarian tactics to silence journalists and activists, it only shows it has abuses to hide.”

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Feb.08: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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(AUSTRALIA) 17th Australia-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue Report: Government should call on Vietnam to meet clear human rights benchmarks when they meet virtually today Wednesday 8th December 2021: #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Dec.08: Australia should use its influence to press Vietnam to take concrete action to reverse its abysmal human rights record,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch. “Many people in Vietnam have been persecuted simply because they tried to exercise basic civil and political rights that Australians often take for granted.”


#AceDailyNews reports that Human Rights Watch said today: Australia should Press Vietnam to Respect Rights at the dialogue over Hanoi Detaining at Least 176 Political Prisoners, Detainees

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Vietnam's Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son shake hands.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son shake hands before their meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, November 9, 2021. © 2021 AP Photo/Hau Dinh

In a December submission, Human Rights Watch urged the Australian government to use the dialogue to press Vietnam to end its systematic suppression of fundamental civil and political rights, including freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and religion and belief. Australia should also demand that Vietnam immediately release all political prisoners and detainees, and revise its problematic penal and criminal procedure codes to bring them into line with international human rights standards.

An Australian citizen, Chau Van Kham, has remained in a Vietnamese prison since January 2019 on terrorism charges for his involvement in Viet Tan, a peaceful political organization focused on democracy and human rights in Vietnam. Securing his release, and enabling him to return to Australia to be reunited with his family, should be a top priority for Australia in the dialogue.

As of December, Human Rights Watch had documented that at least 146 people are behind bars in Vietnam for exercising their basic rights, including the prominent bloggers and activists Tran Huynh Duy ThucPham Chi DungNguyen Tuong ThuyPham Chi ThanhCan Thi TheuLe Dinh LuongTruong Minh DucNguyen Trung TonPham Van TroiHoang Duc BinhTran Anh KimPham Van DiepTran Duc ThachNguyen Trung Truc, and Ho Duc Hoa. The police have arrested at least 30 other people on politically motivated charges, including the influential blogger Pham Doan Trang, and the land rights activists Trinh Ba Phuong and Nguyen Thi Tam.

Australia’s bilateral relationship with Vietnam has continued to grow in recent years. In 2021 Australia was one of the top 10 trade partners with Vietnam. In November, the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne visited Hanoi, but she did not raise human rights concerns publicly during her visit.

#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Dec.08: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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(ETHIOPIA) Crisis in Tigray Report: As fighting enters it 9th month and humanitarian agencies have seen a rise in ‘rape & pillaging’ together with killing by all parties #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.31: This, together with the killing, pillaging, and rape, committed by all parties, has created a humanitarian crisis. With the UN warning it would run out of food supplies today, Amy Braunschweiger speaks with Human Rights Watch’s Horn of Africa director Laetitia Bader about the devastation on the ground, and about how to report on a conflict when enormous obstacles hinder obtaining real-time information.

HRW Report: The Latest on the Crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region: Fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is entering its ninth month, and it may intensify after leaders in several of Ethiopia’s regions as well as its capital, Addis Ababa, called on residents, including youth, to mobilize against the Tigray fighters as the conflict has forced more than two million to flee their homes and left millions dependent on food aid. Deepening the crisis, Ethiopia’s government has repeatedly cut basic services to the region, including electricity and communications.

July 30, 2021 2:54AM EDT:

What do we know about the situation in Tigray now? 

June saw heavy fighting between Tigrayan and Ethiopian government forces, including Ethiopia’s allied forces from its Amhara region and neighboring Eritrea. On June 28, Tigrayan forces recaptured the regional capital, Mekelle, taking thousands of Ethiopian soldiers prisoner. That same day, the federal government withdrew from Tigray and declared a unilateral ceasefire, citing many reasons including to allow in essential aid.

Yet the government kept Tigray shut off after its declaration.

Since late June, Ethiopian authorities have blocked roads into the region, and access is sporadic. Even now, electricity and fuel supplies are rapidly dwindling, communications and banking have been shut down, and access to cash is severely limited, including for aid agencies operating in the region.

a map of Ethiopia's Tigray region
© Human Rights Watch 

It’s important to underline that a ceasefire should not be necessary to ensure that warring parties allow the civilian population access to humanitarian aid, which is a basic requirement of the law of armed conflict.

Fighting continues. We have received reports of abuses in western Tigray, and last week we learned that fighting expanded to Ethiopia’s Afar region, bordering Tigray to the east, causing thousands to flee.

What abuses have you uncovered over the last eight months?

Early in the fighting, people in Tigray suffered indiscriminate bombing by Ethiopian government forces, killing scores and forcing thousands to flee to Sudan or elsewhere in Ethiopia. Over the following months, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Amhara troops burned crops, occupied and looted homes, and committed extrajudicial killings. We’ve documented 10 days of horror in the historic town of Axum, where Ethiopian and Eritrean forces shelled the town, then conducted widespread pillaging of the town and health centers. Eritrean forces there responded to an ambush by massacring scores of residents in their homes and on the street, including children. In general, we’ve reported on summary executions, sexual violence, pillaging, arbitrary detention, and attacks on factories, schools, and hospitals.

Tigrayan women who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, cook at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, November 25, 2020.
Tigrayan women who fled the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, cook at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, November 25, 2020.© 2020 Nariman El-Mofty/AP Images

Is humanitarian aid still not getting into Tigray today? 

After nearly a month where flights into Tigray were halted, the Ethiopian government permitted humanitarian flights into the region on July 22, although the United Nations said their staff faced stringent, time-consuming checks.

Keep in mind that by early June, there were already 350,000 people facing starvation in Tigray. Four million people, 70 percent of the population, needed food aid. After the government’s unilateral ceasefire declaration, humanitarian workers said that roads, notably through the neighboring Amhara region, were blocked off. On July 1 a bridge you have to cross to enter central Tigray was destroyed and a convoy of 29 trucks carrying food aid was forced to turn back. One aid convoy made it into Tigray two weeks ago, but another was attacked ten days ago in the Afarregion. Another convoy is currently blocked in Afar awaiting government clearance.

Humanitarian workers have been largely unable to bring in food and medical supplies. The UN World Food Program (WFP) warned earlier this week that their supplies in Tigray are within days of running out.

To make matters worse, humanitarian workers have been threatened and attacked. Since the conflict began, 12 aid workers have been killed, including three Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) staff killed in late June. Ethiopian defense forces entered and raided UNICEF offices in late June, dismantling critical communication equipment. Warring parties, notably Eritrean government forces, have deliberately attacked and occupied medical facilities. Over the last three weeks, social media influencers have repeatedly made false online claims against aid workers, putting them at greater risk.

What happened to make food aid so essential in Tigray? 

Ethiopian troops and their allies from Eritrea and the Amhara region have looted and burned crops, and attacked factories and infrastructure. This war started during harvesting season. We interviewed Tigrayans who fled to Sudan who reported that farming equipment and crops were burned and their harvest and livestock looted, notably by Amhara and Eritrean forces.

For months, people were also just too scared to move, given the risks they faced.

A woman walks past a house that was damaged by shelling when federal-aligned forces entered the town of Wukro, in Ethiopia's Tigray region, March 1, 2021. 
A woman walks past a house that was damaged by shelling when federal-aligned forces entered the town of Wukro, in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, March 1, 2021.  2021 Eduarto Soteras/Getty Images© 

How are the Ethiopian federal government’s restrictions on communications hurting people? 

As we speak, the phone lines are once again down in the region. The internet has been cut off since the beginning of the conflict. No phone service makes it difficult for people to receive key information, like which areas may be safe, or where to go if they need medical help.

People also can’t get information about family and friends. I recently spoke to a doctor who fled Tigray into Sudan. His wife had a baby a month ago and he still hasn’t been able to tell his family back home.

It also makes it incredibly difficult for humanitarian workers to help people, and to make decisions around security or to assess a community’s needs. And it hinders the ability of journalists and human rights groups like ours to collect information and report on unfolding abuses.

So how have you been doing research?

Whenever communication lines are restored, we speak with people in the region about what they’ve experienced. We’ve been able to confirm atrocities and witness accounts using forensic analysis and various open-source techniques, including satellite imagery and verification of video and photo materials.

What’s happening with the Eritrean refugees in Tigray? 

Two weeks ago, we heard alarming reports that the two remaining camps for Eritrean refugees in Tigray were caught in the fighting between Tigrayan and Ethiopian government forces. The warring parties need to protect these vulnerable people, and the international community should be thinking about how to support and protect them as well.

Earlier in the conflict, two other refugee camps hosting roughly 20,000 Eritrean refugees were destroyed by Eritrean forces, the military from the country where they fled repression and persecution. Tigrayan militias also killed and sexually assaulted refugees in late 2020, in what appears to be unlawful revenge attacks because of abuses Eritrea’s forces committed in Tigray at the time, including massacres, widespread pillaging, and sexual violence.

There are numerous reports of sexual violence against women and girls. What kind of help are rape survivors able to get?

The UN reported more than 500 cases of gender-based violence in May alone, including against girls. Reports point to uniformed soldiers involved in rape and gang rape, in some cases holding women and girls captive for days. We assume many more survivors haven’t been counted given the challenges with stigma, communication, and finding help. The region only has one clinic providing comprehensive post-rape services.

Humanitarian organizations have reported that women are being sexually exploited in exchange for money for food. These incidents could grow as famine looms.

What’s happening to ethnic Tigrayans in Ethiopia outside of the Tigray region? 

Since the conflict’s beginning, government security forces have harassed, profiled, dismissed from work, and arbitrarily arrested ethnic Tigrayans throughout Ethiopia. Many Tigrayans in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, continue to face discrimination and arbitrary arrest. The government has held incommunicado journalists, political activists, and other people from all walks of life of Tigrayan descent,  their loved ones don’t know how to locate them. Security forces and local officials have closed scores of Tigrayan businesses in the capital.

How has the fighting affected the rest of the country? 

Events in Tigray have attracted a lot of attention because of the gravity of the crimes. But this isn’t happening in a vacuum. For several years we and others have been raising the alarm about a deteriorating human rights situation under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in many parts of Ethiopia.

Over the past year alone, government security forces have engaged in abuses in the Oromia region, including widespread arbitrary arrest, extrajudicial and public executions, enforced disappearances, and harassment of people with perceived links to Oromo rebel groups. Violence along ethnic and communal lines has broken out in all 10 regions of Ethiopia, resulting in killings, displacement, and destruction of property. In the last days alone, there are reports of deadly violence along the Afar and Somali regional border.

The situation in Ethiopia had deteriorated in the lead-up to late June’s national elections, which many parts of the country didn’t participate in because of security issues and voting irregularities.

Events in Tigray are happening within a context in which the federal and regional governments have failed to tackle the country’s underlying problems. Structural problems and legitimate grievances have not been discussed or responded to, and there has been no credible justice for past government abuses and repression or more recent wrongs.

When Abiy became prime minister in 2018, there was widespread hope that the future could be brighter given promises of sweeping reforms. These haven’t materialized, and these hopes have been dashed for communities throughout the country.

What has been the international response to the Tigray situation? ……..The response by the United Nations and influential governments has been slow and mixed. Over the last few months, there’s been more concerted efforts by the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom about ensuring access to aid and calling for investigations into serious abuses. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has established a commission of inquiry, which the African Union needs to support with financial, technical, and political assistance. The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights (OHCHR) is conducting a joint investigation with Ethiopia’s national human rights commission.

The UN Human Rights Council was very slow to react to the crisis, only putting Tigray on its agenda in mid-July. At the same time, the UN Security Council was in paralysis, discussing Ethiopia for months behind closed doors, with some member states saying the conflict was an “internal matter.” The first public Security Council meeting was not until June.

It’s critical that the key international bodies and governments move beyond condemnatory statements and adopt concrete action. They should push for credible, UN-led investigations, which could pave the way for the prosecution of those responsible for serious abuses. They should also impose individual sanctions on those responsible for violating international human rights and humanitarian law, and adopt an arms embargo.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: July.31: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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(ARMENIA) Human Rights Report: Authorities have persisted with spurious criminal incitement charges against a human rights activist, Sashik Sultanyan, HRW said today #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.17: The charges are in retaliation for an online interview Sultanyan gave in which he spoke about a variety of problems he believes the local Yezidi community face in Armenia:

(ARMENIA) Malicious Prosecution of Activist: Drop Charges Against Rights Defender Sashik Sultanyan: On May 20: NSS confiscated from Sultanyan three computers, one of which belonged to a family member, two telephones, and several USB sticks:

June 9, 2021

Sashik Sultanyan
Sashik Sultanyan © Private

“Although Armenian authorities might disagree with the content of Sultanyan’s interview, the opinions he expressed in it fall squarely within the boundaries of legitimate speech, protected under international law,” said Giorgi Gogia, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should immediately drop the charges against Sultanyan and ensure that there is no undue interference in his legitimate human rights work.”

Sultanyan is the chairperson of a nongovernmental group, Yezidi Center for Human Rights, which since 2018 has worked on community mobilization, awareness raising, and anti-corruption issues in Armenia.

On October 3, 2020, Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) initiated a criminal investigation against Sultanyan, stemming from an interview he gave to the website Yezidinews.am that was published in June 2020. In the charge sheet, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, the investigator refers to several of Sultanyan’s statements to justify the criminal investigation into inciting national enmity among Yezidis, a national and ethnic minority in Armenia.

The investigator referred to Sultanyan’s interview statements alleging, among other things, that Yezidis experience discrimination in Armenia, that they cannot study their language or develop their culture, and that they are underrepresented in local government structures. The investigator also referenced Sultanyan’s allegations that Armenians had seized Yezidi property, that authorities do not protect their rights, and that Yezidis live “in fear.”

The investigation appears to have been opened based on a complaint filed by a leader of the Veto Movement, a radical group that has built a reputation for aggressive hostility against human rights defenders in Armenia.

The criminal case also is flawed procedurally, Human Rights Watch said: Although the investigation was opened in October 2020, the authorities provided information to Sultanyan about it only in May 2021. In a response dated November 21, 2020, to an official request for information, the NSS confirmed to Sultanyan that there was a criminal investigation underway but did not provide him with any further information or a copy of the decision to open the investigation. The NSS informed Sultanyan that he had no procedural status in the investigation and thus could not demand access to further information about the case. The refusal to share information with Sultanyan even when he was a subject of investigation undermines Sultanyan’s rights to a fair process and an effective remedy protected under articles 6 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

On June 2, 2021: Human Rights Watch wrote to the prosecutor’s office, urging it to drop charges against Sultanyan and ensure that he is able to do his legitimate human rights work without undue interference. In its June 10 response, the prosecutor’s office stated that the investigation had been opened “according to national and international norms,” and that the circumstances cannot be interpreted as violations of Sultanyan’s rights.

The authorities have wrongly characterised Sultanyan’s statements as “incitement,” Human Rights Watch said: They fall within the boundaries of legitimate speech protected under international law, in particular article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As a party to both treaties, the Armenian government has specific legal obligations to protect freedom of speech:

“ Armenian authorities are violating Sultanyan’s right to his freedom of expression,” Gogia said. “While fighting national and ethnic hatred is the government’s responsibility, it’s not achieved through criminalizing legitimate speech or otherwise violating the rights of those who speak out on sensitive matters.”

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Jun.17: 2021:

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(JERUSALEM) JUST IN: Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.29: The finding is based on an overarching Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians and grave abuses committed against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem:

Abusive Israeli Policies Constitute Crimes of Apartheid, Persecution & Crimes Against Humanity Should Trigger Action to End Repression of Palestinian

Map of Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories

April 27, 2021

The 213-page report, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” examines Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. It presents the present-day reality of a single authority, the Israeli government, ruling primarily over the area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, populated by two groups of roughly equal size, and methodologically privileging Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians, most severely in the occupied territory.

“Prominent voices have warned for years that apartheid lurks just around the corner if the trajectory of Israel’s rule over Palestinians does not change,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “This detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

The finding of apartheid and persecution does not change the legal status of the occupied territory, made up of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, or the factual reality of occupation.

Originally coined in relation to South Africa, apartheid today is a universal legal term. The prohibition against particularly severe institutional discrimination and oppression or apartheid constitutes a core principle of international law. The 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the 1998 Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court (ICC) define apartheid as a crime against humanity consisting of three primary elements:

  1. An intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another.
  2. A context of systematic oppression by the dominant group over the marginalized group.
  3. Inhumane acts.

The reference to a racial group is understood today to address not only treatment on the basis of genetic traits but also treatment on the basis of descent and national or ethnic origin, as defined in the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Human Rights Watch applies this broader understanding of race.

The crime against humanity of persecution, as defined under the Rome Statute and customary international law, consists of severe deprivation of fundamental rights of a racial, ethnic, or other group with discriminatory intent.

Human Rights Watch found that the elements of the crimes come together in the occupied territory, as part of a single Israeli government policy. That policy is to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territory. It is coupled in the occupied territory with systematic oppression and inhumane acts against Palestinians living there.

Drawing on years of human rights documentation, case studies, and a review of government planning documents, statements by officials, and other sources, Human Rights Watch compared policies and practices toward Palestinians in the occupied territory and Israel with those concerning Jewish Israelis living in the same areas. Human Rights Watch wrote to the Israeli government in July 2020, soliciting its perspectives on these issues, but has received no response.

Across Israel and the occupied territory, Israeli authorities have sought to maximize the land available for Jewish communities and to concentrate most Palestinians in dense population centers. The authorities have adopted policies to mitigate what they have openly described as a “demographic threat” from Palestinians. In Jerusalem, for example, the government’s plan for the municipality, including both the west and occupied east parts of the city, sets the goal of “maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city” and even specifies the demographic ratios it hopes to maintain.

To maintain domination, Israeli authorities systematically discriminate against Palestinians. The institutional discrimination that Palestinian citizens of Israel face includes laws that allow hundreds of small Jewish towns to effectively exclude Palestinians and budgets that allocate only a fraction of resources to Palestinian schools as compared to those that serve Jewish Israeli children. In the occupied territory, the severity of the repression, including the imposition of draconian military rule on Palestinians while affording Jewish Israelis living in a segregated manner in the same territory their full rights under Israel’s rights-respecting civil law, amounts to the systematic oppression required for apartheid.

Israeli authorities have committed a range of abuses against Palestinians. Many of those in the occupied territory constitute severe abuses of fundamental rights and the inhumane acts again required for apartheid, including: sweeping movement restrictions in the form of the Gaza closure and a permit regime, confiscation of more than a third of the land in the West Bank, harsh conditions in parts of the West Bank that led to the forcible transfer of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, denial of residency rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their relatives, and the suspension of basic civil rights to millions of Palestinians.

Many of the abuses at the core of the commission of these crimes, such as near-categorical denial of building permits to Palestinians and demolition of thousands of homes on the pretext of lacking permits, have no security justification. Others, such as Israel’s effective freeze on the population registry it manages in the occupied territory, which all but blocks family reunification for Palestinians living there and bars Gaza residents from living in the West Bank, use security as a pretext to further demographic goals. Even when security forms part of the motivation, it no more justifies apartheid and persecution than it would excessive force or torture, Human Rights Watch said.

“Denying millions of Palestinians their fundamental rights, without any legitimate security justification and solely because they are Palestinian and not Jewish, is not simply a matter of an abusive occupation,” Roth said. “These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another.”

Statements and actions by Israeli authorities in recent years, including the passage of a law with constitutional status in 2018 establishing Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people,” the growing body of laws that further privilege Israeli settlers in the West Bank and do not apply to Palestinians living in the same territory, as well as the massive expansion in recent years of settlements and accompanying infrastructure connecting settlements to Israel, have clarified their intent to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis. The possibility that a future Israeli leader might someday forge a deal with Palestinians that dismantles the discriminatory system does not negate that reality today.

Israeli authorities should dismantle all forms of repression and discrimination that privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians, including with regards to freedom of movement, allocation of land and resources, access to water, electricity, and other services, and the granting of building permits.

The ICC Office of the Prosecutor should investigate and prosecute those credibly implicated in the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. Countries should do so as well in accordance with their national laws under the principle of universal jurisdiction, and impose individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on officials responsible for committing these crimes.

The findings of crimes against humanity should prompt the international community to reevaluate the nature of its engagement in Israel and Palestine and adopt an approach centered on human rights and accountability rather than solely on the stalled “peace process.” Countries should establish a UN commission of inquiry to investigate systematic discrimination and repression in Israel and Palestine and a UN global envoy for the crimes of persecution and apartheid with a mandate to mobilize international action to end persecution and apartheid worldwide.

Countries should condition arms sales and military and security assistance to Israel on Israeli authorities taking concrete and verifiable steps toward ending their commission of these crimes. Countries should vet agreements, cooperation schemes, and all forms of trade and dealing with Israel to screen for those directly contributing to committing the crimes, mitigate the human rights impacts and, where not possible, end activities and funding found to facilitate these serious crimes.

“While much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution,” Roth said. “Those who strive for Israeli-Palestinian peace, whether a one or two-state solution or a confederation, should in the meantime recognize this reality for what it is and bring to bear the sorts of human rights tools needed to end it.”

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Apr.29: 2021:

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(CAMBODIA) HRW REPORT: The draft Law on the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has not been made public, but and a copy of the bill, which is dated March 3, 2021. The draft law purports to create a legal framework for the rights of people with disabilities, but it fails to adopt a human rights-based approach #AceNewsDesk report

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#AceNewsReport – Apr.27: It uses language that reinforces stigma against people with disabilities rather than ensuring equal access to education, employment, transportation, social and legal services, and independent living:

Cambodia: Revise Flawed Disability Bill: Adopt Inclusive Rights-Based Approach; Seek to End Stigma: The Cambodian government should revise a draft disability law to ensure equal rights for people with disabilities in accordance with international human rights law, Human Rights Watch said today. Cambodia, in 2012, ratified the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which aims to ensure full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by everyone with disabilities while enabling their full inclusion and equal participation in society: Human Rights Watch, in a 2013 report, documented that people in Cambodia with real or perceived psychosocial disabilities continue to be shackled – chained or locked in confined spaces – due to lack of adequate and accessible community-based services, as well as stigma and discrimination. The government should immediately ban shackling, Human Rights Watch said.

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Front side of the National Assembly of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, May 7, 2019. © Daniel Kalker/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

“ Cambodia has long needed a disability rights law, but the proposed bill needs to drop stigmatizing language and to support the right to be fully included in society, not marginalized,” said Kriti Sharma, disability rights expert at Human Rights Watch. “If the draft law is revised to meet international standards, the government would be taking a monumental step toward ensuring equal rights and strong social protections for the large number of people in Cambodia who have disabilities.”

The draft law’s definition of disability is based on an outdated paradigm guided by a medical model of disability, and uses stigmatizing language such as “disorder,” “damaged,” and “malfunctioned,” implying that a disability needs to be “cured” or “fixed.”

The bill should be revised to carry out key articles of the international treaty, Human Rights Watch said. This includes CRPD article 4 on requiring consultation with people with disabilities; article 12 on equal recognition before the law; article 14 on the right to liberty and security, including preventing arbitrary detention in institutions; article 15 on freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; article 19 on the right to live independently and be included within the community; and article 29 on participation in political and public life, including ensuring the right to seek public office.

The draft law sets out “levels of disability,” which is discriminatory because it creates a basis for excluding people with certain disabilities from living independently or accessing appropriate support. The government should reformulate the provision to reflect the requirement in the international covenant for adequate support measures for people with disabilities that would allow them to be fully included and live independently in society.

Chapter IV sets out rights of people with disabilities and the government’s obligations, including on employment, health services, education, accessibility arrangements, equal participation, and legal services. The section on education specifies that the government will provide classes for “persons with disabilities who cannot attend an inclusive class.” This introduces a form of segregation instead of providing for inclusive quality education. Under article 24 of the convention, government schools and educational institutions have a duty to provide reasonable accommodations – necessary and appropriate adjustments based on the individual needs of people with disabilities – and teaching using inclusive methods to ensure that instruction is adapted to the needs of all students.

The draft law article focusing on protection from sexual violence and harassment falls short of article 16 of the convention, which safeguards against all forms of exploitation, violence, and abuse, including those based on gender, and provides guidance for monitoring systems and support services. The bill uses vague language, merely requiring “appropriate and effective measures” and does not offer protections from other forms of violence such as physical violence, exploitation, and abuse. The article should set out complaints procedures that are accessible, anonymous, and provide for reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities.

Chapter III seeks to establish a Cambodian National Council for Persons with Disabilities. This government body should be supplemented by an independent body, as required by article 33 of the treaty, and include people with disabilities and representative organizations in decision-making in line with the fundamental principle of the treaty, “nothing about us, without us.”

In 2019, Cambodia rolled out a disability identification card pilot project in eight provinces, and said that by early 2021 it had registered about 14,000 people with disabilities. This card is designed to provide access to social benefits. However, the process has been slow, with inadequate dissemination of information to people with disabilities about registration and inadequate training for officials. “Of course, right now the disability ID doesn’t have much value,” Yeap Malino, the head of the department on disabilities, said in February.

In June 2020, the Interior Ministry proposed a draft Public Order Law, which will further entrench discrimination against people with psychosocial disabilities – mental health conditions. The current draft bill provides the authorities with unfettered powers to arbitrarily strip people with psychosocial disabilities of their civil liberties and detain them in institutions.

“ The Cambodian government should not waste the opportunity to move away from a system of isolation and abuse and should build a system of support and independence,” Sharma said. “The United Nations, donors, and others involved in drafting Cambodia’s disability law should insist on a final text that is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

#AceNewsDesk report …………..Published: Apr.27: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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