News (handpicked)

'I had my childhood taken from me'

There are currently more than 200 million children working in various jobs around the world. Deprived of an education and a childhood, child labourers are left with no choice but to work in order to provide for their family. As countries prepare to mark World Day Against Child Labour on June 12, former child worker Urmila spoke to Plan International about losing 13 years of her life working as a housemaid

My name is Urmila and I am 19 years old. I was six when my family sent me to work as a housemaid for a wealthy banker in Kathmandu. We were a very poor family and were at the mercy of the local landlord that employed my family. We are south-Nepalese Tharu people, and for the traditionally landless Tharus, entering into child labour contracts with landlords is often the only way to make ends meet; an arrangement known as the Kamalari system.

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Transgenderism: "Society can be cruel"

Dr Manabi Banerjee, 38, underwent a sex change operation to become a woman in 2003, in Kolkata. Despite suffering torture and physical intimidation, Manabi earned a doctorate and now works as college lecturer in Bengali, one of the most spoken languages in the world. On the back of the Delhi court's decriminalisation of homosexuality last week, she describes her journey.

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Doña Jacinta, presa de conciencia

México ya ocupa más espacio en la lista negra de Amnistía Internacional (AI). Desde ayer, Jacinta Francisco Marcial, indígena otomí condenada a 21 años de cárcel por secuestrar a seis agentes de la policía federal, es considerada por la organización defensora de derechos humanos como una "prisionera de conciencia".

AI, con sede en Londres, avisó a sus más de dos millones de socios en el planeta para que apunten en su agenda que tienen que luchar también por la liberación de esta abuela indígena, madre de seis hijos y con igual número de nietos, que no contó, ni cuenta, con un debido proceso judicial, de lo que han dado fe distintos organismos.

 

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Aung San Suu Kyi found guilty of breaking house arrest

Aung San Suu Kyi will spent the next year and a half under guard at her home in Rangoon after a court today found her guilty of breaking the terms of her house arrest. Her sentence means she will play no part in elections the junta has promised to hold early next year.
The 64-year-old learned her fate in a few minutes of courtroom drama witnessed by journalists and diplomats from the same countries that have been calling for her immediate and unconditional release. Although her sentence falls some way short of the maximum five years available to the court, news that the Nobel peace laureate had again been denied her freedom drew immediate condemnation from around the world.

 

 

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Pressure mounts over allegations of British complicity in torture

Ministers came under fresh pressure today over detailed allegations of complicity in torture, with Gordon Brown being asked whether the attorney general would investigate them and human rights groups joining MPs and peers demanding an independent inquiry. They were responding to today's report by parliament's joint committee on human rights which said the government could no longer get away with repeating standard denials of complicity by the security and intelligence agencies.

 

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Condenados dos serbobosnios que quemaron a 142 civiles

Milan y Sredoje Lukic, dos primos serbobosnios que lideraban un grupo paramilitar autodenominado Águilas Blancas, fueron condenados ayer a cadena perpetua por el Tribunal Penal Internacional para la antigua Yugoslavia por uno de los crímenes más horrendos que recuerdan sus jueces. En junio de 1992, y en dos ataques sucesivos, encerraron a unos 142 niños, mujeres y ancianos musulmanes en sendas casas a las que prendieron fuego después. Quemados vivos dentro, los pocos que trataron de escapar fueron abatidos a tiros. Los hechos, calificados por la fiscalía de "ejemplo claro de limpieza étnica", ocurrieron en Visegrado, al este de Bosnia.

La pareja siempre ha negado su participación en el crimen. De hecho, a Sredoje Lukic, de 48 años, le impusieron 30 años de reclusión porque no pudo probarse que estuviera presente en uno de los ataques. Milan Lukic, de 41 años, sí pasará el resto de su vida entre rejas. Durante el juicio, los testigos señalaron que las mujeres retenidas por la pareja "solían ser violadas y torturadas, una vez que sus esposos, padres, hermanos e hijos habían sido asesinados". Patrick Robinson, el presidente de la sala que los condenó, calificó sus actos de "crueles más allá de lo imaginable y con total desdén por la vida humana".

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Una sentencia del Supremo de Estados Unidos rebate la discriminación positiva

En una decisión dividida los magistrados anulan la interpretación de la juez Sotomayor, designada por Obama para entrar en la alta corte. El Tribunal Supremo se ha pronunciado a favor de un grupo de trabajadores blancos en un caso de discriminación racial que puede tener seria repercusión en las posibilidades de la juez Sonia Sotomayor de acceder a la más alta corte, así como en el trato futuro que los tribunales otorguen a los litigios relacionados con los derechos civiles. Se trata de un fallo de claras implicaciones políticas y que ha despertado una gran polémica, puesto que afecta a uno de los conceptos básicos sobre los que, desde hace décadas, se asienta la sociedad norteamericana: la discriminación positiva.

Sotomayor, que en su día, como juez federal, se pronunció en contra de los mismos trabajadores amparados ahora, sufre un revés significativo dado que el Supremo le ha quitado la razón en un asunto importante de interpretación de la ley. Por su parte, la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964, en sí misma, puede verse ahora sometida a una más rigurosa y estrecha aplicación.

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Cambodia: Government is slow to enact anti-torture measures

Between 1975 and 1979 the Cambodian people suffered one of the world s most brutal regimes, the Khmer Rouge, which used, among things, torture as a means to assert its rule. In its notorious Tuol Sleng Torture Centre in Phnom Penh, some 16,000 Cambodians died horribly by the systematic use of torture by the Khmer Rouge to extract confessions during the four years of its reign. Now, the man who ran that centre, Kaing Guek Eav alias Duch , is being tried by the UN-assisted Khmer Rouge tribunal for torture and other crimes.


Due to this experience, in 1992, upon the end of the war that had followed the ousting of the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia did not hesitate to adhere to the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and has since taken measures to combat torture. Surveys among a sample of inmates conducted by a human rights NGO, LICADHO, in 18 different prisons across the country have shown a decline of alleged torture cases, from 450 in police custody and 49 in prison in 1999, to 124 and 78 respectively among the 2,556 inmates interviewed in 2007, and to 78 and 7, respectively among 1,983 inmates interviewed in 2008.


In order to show its commitment, Cambodia ratified the Optional Protocol to this convention or OPCAT in 2007. Unfortunately the Cambodian government has failed to honour its obligations under this Protocol and it has not created, within the OPCAT-prescribed one year period, an independent National Preventive Mechanism to visit places of detention; it has simply pledged to do so by the end of 2010.
For many years the Ministry of Interior has authorized NGOs access to prisons but not to police stations, especially to LICADHO, to provide medical treatment and conduct surveys on the treatment of inmates.

 

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