Newsletter September Newsletter

European and World News Updates – September 2022

Bad News Europe

  • According to Missing Migrants, a documentation project by the UN-run International Organisation for Migration, 19,705 people have gone missing in the central Mediterranean since 2014. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Separated Families and Missing Persons Centre registered 16,500 people who were looking for 25,600 missing migrants across Europe in 2021 alone. 
  • In mid-August, Israeli armed forces raided and shut the offices of the seven prominent Palestinian human rights organisations that Israel outlawed in October 2021 on the grounds they were terrorist organisations. These included Defence for Children International – Palestine, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and Addameer which provides legal support for Palestinian prisoners. Israeli soldiers confiscated materials, left military orders declaring the organisations unlawful and welded shut their office doors. However, Israel’s largest human rights group B’Tselem expressed support for the Palestinian groups.
  • openDemocracy has reported that many Afghans now living in Europe have experienced racism, discrimination and economic hardship and that they contrast their treatment with that received by Ukrainian refugees.

Good News World

  • The UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery reported to the Human 

Rights Council in August that there was sufficient evidence to point to forced labour in the Uyghur region of China.

  • The Prime Minister of Australia has committed to holding a referendum on whether or not to enshrine an Indigenous voice into Australia’s constitution, which makes no mention of Aboriginal people or Torres Strait Islanders.
  • A survey in the USA has found that 71 per cent of Americans want stricter gun laws. This included about half of the Republicans surveyed, the vast majority of Democrats, and a majority of those in gun-owning households. 
  • A bipartisan group of senators is trying to restore access to abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. While not intended to pass, the legislation is intended to signal to state legislatures that the national legislature could act.
  • In the first electoral test since the Supreme Court decision to end the national right to abortion, the normally conservative state of Kansas voted by a huge margin to strike down a constitutional amendment that would have effectively banned abortion in the state: 59 per cent voted to preserve the right. The vote echoes national polls which show that the Supreme Court is out of sync with how Americans feel about abortion: the most recent CNN survey found that 63 per cent disapproved of their decision.
  • Twenty US states, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the American Academy of Paediatrics are among those who have filed ‘friend of the court’ briefs in federal government action against Idaho for its near-total ban on abortion, claiming it violates federal health care laws.
  • Ghana hosted a Reparations and Racial Healing Summit in August, organised to coordinate a global strategy and agenda to secure reparations for the transatlantic slave trade and the European colonisation in Africa.
  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Seoul is considering reviewing the cases of dozens of South Korean children who may have been unnecessarily removed from their families and adopted by Danish parents.
  • The London-based Centre for Information Resilience is re-building networks of Burmese and Afghan journalists to help bring to light to both abuses and positives beyond the gaze of the international media. Myanmar Witness, for example, has more than 100 investigations on its database and Afghan Witness has girls using online learning programmes.
  • Egyptian human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Ezz el-Din has been freed after spending almost three years in arbitrary detention.
  • Twenty two people have been granted clemency in Malawi, the first time in 15 years that anyone’s death sentence has been commuted there.

Bad News World

  • Unbelievably, following on the heels of the sentencing of Salma al-Shehab to 34 years in prison, another Saudi woman, Professor Nourah bint Saeed Qahtani, has just been sentenced to 45 years in prison for ‘using the internet to tear the social fabric’ and ‘violating public order by using social media’.
  • Alexei Navalny has been put into solitary confinement for encouraging fellow inmates to form a trade union.
  • Britain’s ex-ambassador to Myanmar was detained on alleged immigration offences just as the UK announced new sanctions against it. Britain is also joining the case against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice.
  • On 2 August Amnesty International published a report urging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to acknowledge the failure of its April 2021 5-point plan to end the violence and human rights violations in Myanmar. It referred to the continuing atrocities including unfair trials, extra-judicial killings and torture by the military.
  • Save the Children has made a strong association between the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, girls dropping out of school and the increase in teenage pregnancies and child marriages.
  • Freedom House, an organisation campaigning on the premise that freedom is established only when the rule of law prevails and freedom of expression and belief are permitted, awarded Saudi Arabia a score of 7/100 in its latest report.
  • The State of Oklahoma, the second most common user of the death penalty in the US with 116 executions since 1976, has recently scheduled 25 executions between August 2022 and December 2024. This appears to be a response to the denial of a challenge to the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol which includes the drug midazolam which has been implicated in a number of botched executions. If these proceed, Oklahoma will have executed over half of its current death row prisoners. 
  • A report by UN experts states it has solid evidence that members of Rwanda’s armed forces are conducting operations in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in support of the Tutsi M23 rebel group. They also claim that Rwanda is violating a UN arms embargo against the Congo.
  • The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees is struggling to meet a funding shortfall after the UK cut its funding from £70.6mn in 2018 to £28.6mn in 2021. The agency provides health care, education, welfare service, skills training and humanitarian relief to victims of war, famine and displacement.
  • The Nigerian Court of Appeals ruled that Islamic religious (sharia) law does not violate the constitution, dismissing the challenge of a man sentenced to death two years ago on the charge of blasphemy, but it did order a retrial.