June 2022 Newsletter Newsletter

Good and Bad News – June World Update

Good News World

  • Central African Republic lawmakers have voted to abolish the death penalty, following Chad and Sierra Leone. Momentum is growing for abolition across the entire continent. 
  • Believing that the Supreme Court is about to overturn the Roe v Wade decision about access to abortion, the US Senate is trying to rush through legislation that would enshrine abortion access in federal law.
  • As Michelle Bachelet began her tour of China in May, the US-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation published documents hacked by Uyghur activists from police computer servers in Xinjiang. It contains spreadsheets with records on more than 23,000 detainees and mugshots of more than 2,800 detainees, among them 15 minors, detained in 2018. 

Bad News World

  • On 24 May, an 18-year-old fatally shot 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, before being shot dead by armed police. Once again, this has prompted discussions about American gun culture and violence.
  • Hong Kong has a new chief executive to succeed Carrie Lam. John Lee will begin his five-year term on 1 July. He was elected in a secret ballot by 99% of the 1,416 members of the largely pro-Beijing election committee. Hong Kong’s 7.4mn people had no say. 
  • A 90-year-old Hong Kong cleric has been arrested by the police on national security charges, along with other former trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Support Fund, which provides assistance to people arrested during the 2019 anti-government protests.  
  • The OHCHR’s report on human rights violations in Xinjiang, which was apparently finalised last year, shows no sign of being made public despite requests from Amnesty and almost 200 other NGOs. 
  • The Taliban have ordered women to wear a burka or chador in public. If they refuse, their closest male relative will face imprisonment or be fired from state jobs. This may motivate Afghan men to use violence to enforce compliance. The Taliban have also ordered female television presenters to cover their faces while on air.
  • Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed on the West Bank on 11 May while broadcasting in a refugee camp and clearly marked as press. Eyewitnesses say she was deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers. An investigation by the Palestinian Authority confirmed that, and reported that she was killed by an armour-piercing bullet to the head. Israel continues to deny responsibility. The United Nations announced on 1 June that it was naming its annual training program for Palestinian broadcasters and journalists after Shireen.
  • Oklahoma has become the first US state to effectively end abortion. The Governor has signed a law which takes effect immediately which bans all abortions from fertilisation except where the pregnant woman is in a medical emergency or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
  • A law in Louisiana has been prepared which could result in women who have abortions and anyone assisting them being charged with murder. It is one of at least 16 states where abortion is only prevented from being criminalised because of the Roe vs Wade decision which seems likely to be reversed this month by the US Supreme Court.
  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s appeal against a 9-year sentence for embezzlement and contempt of court was rejected. New criminal charges of ‘creating an extremist group to fan hatred against officials and oligarchs’ could extend his current prison term by 15 years.
  • A former UN Emergency Relief Coordinator has said that the UK’s diversion of foreign aid from famine-hit countries like Afghanistan and Yemen to help Ukraine could end up killing more people than the Russian invasion.
  • Belarus has banned the sale of George Orwell’s novel 1984.