Thursday, March 13, 2014

Human Rights Action Update March 7-13

Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012
This week we marked International Women's Day and noted that the world community came forth with great declarations about the rights of women, their protection and advancement. All three posts in this blog relate to the women and their abuse. It gives you an idea about the extent of the issue and how effective the great statements are. It reminds us of Tom Lehrer and National Brotherhood Week.

In March the Mozambique National Assembly (the Parliament) will consider proposed revisions to the Criminal Code, which contains an article which would enable rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victim. The Parliament could approve and pass into law, this proposed revision. The article provides for the suspension of criminal charges against a person accused of sexual offenses if that person marries the person whom they allegedly sexually violated. It further provides that any penalty imposed will be suspended and dropped after five years of marriage unless there has been a divorce or separation caused by the accused. Changes to Criminal Code, which could be approved and made into law during the next session of parliament in March, represents a grave retrogression in the rights of women and girls in the country. It violates the right of access to justice, bodily integrity, non-discrimination and the right not to be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of women and girls in Mozambique. In addition, the draft Criminal Code contains a provision preventing criminal proceedings against alleged sex offenders to be started unless survivors of sexual abuse; their parent or guardian if they are minors; or a person they live with make an official complaint. Amnesty International USA has provided as prepared message that you can send by putting in your name etc. and clicking. If you prefer to write your own letter, go here.

On 4 March 2014 it was discovered  that human rights defender Ms Ge Zhihui was detained by police in Beijing on 1 March 2014. She is currently being held in Fengtai District Detention Centre in the capital. Ge Zhihui is a petitioner who has been protesting the Chinese government's demolition of her home in 2008, and in the last number of years has been assisting other petitioners who travel to Beijing seeking justice. It is believed that her detention is related to her recent participation in a human rights training on UN mechanisms held outside China as well as her involvement in an underground Christian church in Beijing.
underground Christian church in Beijing.
underground Christian church in Beijing.
underground Christian church in Beijing.
underground Christian church in Beijing.

Detention of human rights defender Ms Ge Zhihui
Ge Zhihu after her beating

Note that she is on crutches as a result of the beating she received when she protested the demolition of her home. Please act on her behalf.

Yomaira Mendoza, a leader of the Afro-descendant community in the Curvaradó River Basin campaigning for collective land titles, has received repeated death threats. The death threats by text message started after she made a statement to the Office of the Attorney General in January. The Office of the Attorney General is advancing a criminal investigation into the misappropriation of land by powerful economic actors with the support of paramilitary groups, and related human rights violations including the killing of Yomaira Mendoza’s husband José Eustoquio Cifuentes Rojas on 7 January 2007. In spite of repeated orders by the Colombian Constitutional Court to ensure the return of the collective lands to the Afro-descendant communities who were forcibly displaced in the late 1990s, Please act on her behalf.

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