December 2022 NewsLetter Newsletter

Good and Bad News World

Good News World

  • The UN Human Rights Council held a special session on ongoing human rights violations in Iran in November. An independent fact-finding mission will investigate abuses by the government there, including on the sentences of execution confirmed by the Islamic regime. According to Human Rights Watch, these sentences fall short of international human rights standards.  
  • The first group of Australian women and children held in a camp in north-east Syria since Isis fell in 2019 have been allowed to return to Australia, assessed as the most vulnerable among the 60 citizens held there.
  • At the time of writing, several Chinese cities have started easing testing and quarantine rules and a shift to more-targeted measures, amid a wave of angry protests – the largest in decades – against the country’s draconian zero-COVID measures.
  • The convictions of four human rights defenders, including Taner Kılıç, Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair, and Idil Eser, Amnesty Turkey’s former Director, were quashed by Turkey’s highest court, the Court of Cassation or Supreme Court of Appeals. 
  • A Russian court has upheld the acquittal in July of Yulia Tsvetkova, the Russian feminist artist who stood trial on ‘pornography’ charges for her body-positive drawings of vaginas.
  • The oldest detainee in Guantanamo Bay, Saifullah Paracha, has now been released to his family in Pakistan. He was kidnapped in 2003 on a business trip and tortured by US personnel in Afghanistan. In 2004, he was flown to Guantanamo in shackles and commenced imprisonment there for 18 years without charge or trial. He was unanimously cleared for release by six US intelligence agencies in May 2021, more than 18 months ago.
  • Voters in Alabama, Tennessee and Vermont all approved measures against slavery and involuntary servitude which would mean ending the use of prison labour.  

Bad News World

  • Same-sex relationships are criminalised in 70 countries and, in 11 of these, the death penalty is either allowed or there is evidence that it has been used.
  • The Supreme Court in Afghanistan has ordered the lashing of people for adultery, theft and running away from home in accordance with sharia law.
  • The Taliban has banned women from using gyms and parks, and purchasing SIM cards. 
  • According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 32 transgender and non-binary people have been killed in the US this year. Transwomen made up 81 per cent of the deaths and most were people of colour.
  • A federal judge has blocked New York from restricting the carrying of guns on private property. This is now possible without the property owner’s permission or knowledge.
  • Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, as head of state, has been granted immunity from a lawsuit in the American courts over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi despite the belief that he ordered the killing.  
  • The UN is alarmed that 139 people have received death sentences from secret military courts in Myanmar since the military coup in February 2021. In July this year, four were executed included a democracy activist and a former lawmaker, the first executions in about 30 years.  
  • EU member states have condemned the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against its own citizens during the 11-year civil war, and demanded that the regime of President Bashar Assad complies with international conventions on such weapons of mass destruction.