The Gambia’s autocratic president, Yahya Jammeh, who once claimed a “billion-year” mandate to rule, has conceded defeat after a shock election loss to a real-estate developer who once worked as a security guard in London. "Hello, are you hearing me?” Jammeh asked Adama Barrow, grinning widely on his mobile. “I wish you all the best. The country will be in your hands in January. You are assured of my guidance. You have to work with me. You are the elected president of The Gambia. I have no ill will and I wish you all the best.” [more inside]
While the International Court of Justice in The Hague takes up a dispute between Kenya and Somalia over maritime oil and gas reserves this week, Human Rights Watch alleges that Kenya's plan to close the Dadaab refugee camp complex, amidst protest from Somalia, violates the UN's 1951 Refugee Convention, which requires that repatriation of refugees must be voluntary. Earlier this year Kenya's Interior Ministry announced that the camp, covering 50 km² (20 mi²) and home to nearly 300,000 people, would be closed by November. Ground was broken to construct the earliest portions of Dadaab in October 1991 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as a temporary measure to aid Somalis fleeing from their country's civil war, but as the years passed the site became home to refugees from other conflicts and to refugees from drought and famine, at its height holding more than half a million people. [more inside]
Recently The Tor Project changed their mission statement and social contract, including language about explicitly supporting human rights. Virgil Griffith argues that this is dangerous for exactly those users whose human rights are threatened: “the ‘Human Rights Watch for Nerds’ branding gives decidedly-unfriendly-and-opportunistic-authorities full license to do as they please with Tor operators or anyone who uses Tor.” [more inside]
Connie Bruck in The New Yorker: Why Obama Has Failed to Close Guantánamo
Congress is blamed for preventing the President from fulfilling his pledge. But that’s not the whole story.
Kem Ley, a popular political commentator and critic of Cambodian PM Hun Sen's regime, was shot dead last week while getting his morning coffee (tw: image with gunshot wounds). After over three decades in power, could this spell the end for the ruling Cambodian People's Party? Mu Sochea, an opposition leader and human rights activist, makes the case in a NYT op-ed. [more inside]
The face of corporate exploitation in the third world is increasingly local, and thus even more invisible than usual. Most land in Africa is technically owned by "local chiefs," and bribery and collusion between chiefs, state and corporations are dispossessing huge numbers of rural families of their land, health and livelihoods.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has a troubled history to say the least. Terrible crimes were committed against children, women, and men, but one woman rose up in response. Now, Rebecca Masika Katsuva has passed. Her words. Her story: Surviving Against the Odds, It's Not the End of the World.
Mental Health Groups Split on Bill to Overhaul Care: "The result: more people treated earlier, and more treated against their will." A Psychiatrist Opposes The Murphy Bill and Here's Why. [more inside]
Global Witness has published a report on the jade industry in Myanmar, a trade "worth far more than previously thought - up to US$31 billion in 2014 alone. That is equivalent to nearly half the GDP of the whole country, which badly needs it. But hardly any of the money is reaching ordinary people or state coffers." [more inside]
Vanishing Canada: Why we’re all losers in Ottawa’s war on data. [Maclean's Magazine]
Stories about government data and historical records being deleted, burned—even tossed into Dumpsters—have become so common in recent years that many Canadians may feel inured to them. But such accounts are only the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg. A months-long Maclean’s investigation, which includes interviews with dozens of academics, scientists, statisticians, economists and librarians, has found that the federal government’s “austerity” program, which resulted in staff cuts and library closures (16 libraries since 2012)—as well as arbitrary changes to policy, when it comes to data—has led to a systematic erosion of government records far deeper than most realize, with the data and data-gathering capability we do have severely compromised as a result.
Richard Cooke visits Rohingya refugees in Malaysia and looks at Australia's history of collaborating with human-rights abusers: "There’s a strange feeling in the room. An unusual aspect of being subjected to a 21st-century genocide-in-progress is that there are templates, blueprints, precedents. They know the fate of the Bosnian Muslims, of the Vietnamese boat people, of the Tutsis. They know this will take a long time, that their fate is uncertain. There is patience, and much more humour than I anticipated." [more inside]
A website for women who have been discriminated against whilst they were pregnant or after having a baby. 54,000 UK women a year are forced out of their jobs due to pregnancy. This doesn't include the women who are demoted, harassed, aren't put forward for promotion, or those that are self employed. Pregnant Then Screwed is a place for these women to tell their story anonymously. [more inside]
Jara – who was also a folk singer, theatre director and communist party member - was taken prisoner during the coup by General Augusto Pinochet in September 1973. Military officers tortured him, broke his wrists and hands, played Russian roulette with him and then on 16 September executed him with 44 bullets. [more inside]
A photo feature on five Mauritanian women, now freed from contemporary slavery. Slavery in Mauritania has been called a major human rights issue, with roughly 4% (155,600 people) of the country's population – proportionally the highest for any country – being enslaved against their will. 
Jim Obergefell and John Arthur had been together nearly two decades when John was stricken by terminal ALS. With their union unconstitutional in Ohio, the couple turned to friends and family to fund a medical flight to Maryland, where they wed, tearfully, on the tarmac [prev.]. After John's death, however, Jim found himself embroiled in an ugly legal battle with his native state over the right to survivor status on John's death certificate -- a fight he eventually took all the way to the Supreme Court. And that's how this morning -- two years after U.S. v. Windsor, a dozen after Lawrence v. Texas, and at the crest of an unprecedented wave of social change -- the heartbreaking case of Obergefell v. Hodges has at long last rendered same-sex marriage legal nationwide in a 5-4 decision lead by Justice Anthony Kennedy. [more inside]
Q: What do the US, Somalia, and South Sudan have in common? A: It's totally cool to put kids in jail forever. At 38, Adolfo Davis is re-sentenced to life imprisonment as an accomplice to a gang murder when he was 14. “The defendant’s acts showed an aggression and callous disregard for human life far beyond his tender age of 14.” [more inside]
The Trans 100 (pdf) is not an award ceremony. It is not a list of the “Best” or the “Most Important” trans people. It is not a popularity contest and there are many individuals absent from the list who are doing excellent work. More are no longer with us. To quote The Trans 100 Co-Founder Jen Richards, The Trans 100 “is an intentionally curated list of out trans people who are working on trans issues in the United States and having a positive impact.” [more inside]
Randomized Dystopia suggests a right that your fictional tyranny could deny its citizens!
I was talking with a friend about trends in dystopian fiction, and we talked a little about the underappreciated rights that don't get as much airtime. So I created Randomized Dystopia. You can hit Reload on the main page to get a right from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or use the Custom Terribleness page for the option of a specifically sexist or ageist dystopia.[more inside]
"This week I may be jailed for writing a book on human rights abuses." by Rafael Marques de Morais [more inside]
The UN has released a report finding that Australian policies may breach the international convention against torture. Prime Minister Tony Abbott's response? "I really think Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations." * Not so much. Meanwhile, thousands of letters of support to detainees in Nauru have been returned, undelivered. [more inside]
Meet the most important legal scholar you’ve likely never heard of: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is this Supreme Court's liberal hero, but her work sits on the shoulders of Dr. Pauli Murray [more inside]
Two centuries ago, America was a pioneer in the use of punitive isolation. Now it is pioneering a refinement: the use of solitary without end.
Extracts of Mohamedou Ould Slahi's Guantanamo diary are read by Stephen Fry, Colin Firth and others as part of the Guardian's Guantanamo Diary series. Previously on Metafilter. [more inside]
Eleven worldwide victories for 2014 - Ten Indigenous Stories of Note in Canada in 2014 [more inside]
Product of Mexico: Hardship on Mexico's farms, a bounty for U.S. tables — the first in a series of four Los Angeles Times long-form stories about labor conditions discovered during an 18-month investigation of Mexican vegetable farms that supply produce to the United States. [more inside]
Shin Dong-Hyuk, the only person born in a North Korean political prison camp known to have escaped, discusses the shock and guilt he feels upon learning that his elderly father, also a political prisoner, is still alive and is being used by the North Korean government to spread misinformation about Shin Dong-Hyuk. [more inside]
Something happened the night of September 26th, 2014 near the town of Iguala, 100 miles from Acapulco, Mexico. According to The New Yorker: “Scores of uniformed municipal police and a handful of masked men dressed in black shot and killed six people, wounded more than twenty, and rounded up and detained forty-three students in a series of attacks carried out at multiple points and lasting more than three hours [...] The forty-three students taken into police custody are now ‘disappeared.” All 43 students, all young men who were studying to become rural teachers, are still missing, presumed dead. [more inside]
"There is not one person in prison in Iraq who has not been subjected to some kind of abuse." "I want people to consider, what if that happened to your family member?" [more inside]
Park Yeonmi shares the story of her treacherous escape from North Korea to South Korea. (Video - transcript available). Also interviewed is Mrs. Lee, a defector who attempted to escape North Korea 9 times before finally succeeding; she describes her brutal experience in the prison camps. [more inside]
The Center for Investigative Reporting conducted a year-long investigation into the problem of teens held in solitary confinement and chronicles what it found in the short documentary “Alone.” [more inside]
A group of American Quakers say they are offering a way out for some desperate Ugandans fleeing the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act. If their account is accurate, it is a remarkable feat for a handful of individuals with very little experience in international aid.... Most Ugandan activists and international human rights groups are discouraging LGBT Ugandans from fleeing, since they largely go to Kenya and wind up in enormous refugee camps that are often just as dangerous for LGBT people as Uganda itself.... But the stories of people fleeing arrest or attack tug at the hearts of foreigners who want to offer direct help to people in crisis. The complex reality on the ground makes that hard to do through established channels — and the donors may never know the individuals they’ve helped. [more inside]
"Human rights are not embodied and protected by declarations, conventions or pieces of legislation; they are embodied and protected by people." Hina Jilani is a lawyer and human rights activist based in Pakistan. [more inside]
Welcome to Detroit's water war – in which upward of 150,000 customers, late on bills that have increased 119 percent in the last decade, are now threatened with shut-offs. Local activists estimate this could impact nearly half of Detroit's mostly poor and black population – between 200,000 and 300,000 people. [more inside]
While the World Watched At the same time Argentina hosted the 1978 World Cup, the nation's dictators were waging their "Dirty War" of repression, kidnappings and torture. As the tournament again draws near, ghastly memories are flooding back.
Equaldex: the collaborative LGBT knowledgebase! A crowd-sourced, verified, beautifully presented representation of equal rights (and how they are specifically denied) for LGBT folks. [via reddit]
Clones Are People Too: The Science and Science Fiction of BBC America’s Orphan Black. BBC America's science fiction series Orphan Black has returned for a second season, with Tatiana Maslany reprising her extraordinary performance playing half a dozen different clone characters. Meanwhile, in the real world, scientists have created cloned embryonic stem cells from the DNA of two adult humans. [Previously]
Malaysian human rights activist Irene Fernandez died on March 31st 2014 at age 67 from heart failure. She was arrested and charged with one year imprisonment in 1996 for "publishing false information with the intention to harm" after publishing a report on abuses of migrant workers in detention camps in Malaysia, and was acquitted in 2008 after multiple delays due to losses of important files. She received a Right Livelihood Award in 2005 for her human rights and migrant advocacy work. She is remembered by activists in Malaysia and overseas, politicians, and international media. [more inside]
Cao Shunli died while incarcerated recently for advocating the right of ordinary Chinese citizens to have input into China's entry in the UN's Universal Periodic Review, a new set of human rights reports for every UN member state. She died because she was denied medical care. Her family has not been allowed to see the body. [more inside]
A sex worker has been awarded $25,000 as compensation for sexual harassment from her manager. [more inside]
Qatar has proposed a bold vision of its future in 2022, but at what cost? In September 2013, the Guardian reported that up to 4,000 migrant workers would die during the construction process for Qatar's staging of the football World Cup in 2022. The Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee, an advocacy group representing Nepalese and South Asian migrant workers, estimates that 400 Nepalese have died on Qatari construction sites since 2010. Nepalese make up around 20% of the migrant workforce. In the past two years 450 Indian workers have died on construction sites. [more inside]
Juno star Ellen Page announced she is gay during a speech at a human rights conference in Las Vegas on Friday. [SLYT] Transcript of her remarks here. [PDF]
What Does Pussy Riot Mean Now? "With all eyes on Russia, two members of the country’s most notorious band of shit-stirrers are free after nearly two years of political imprisonment and enjoying the rock-star treatment during their first trip to the U.S. But the group’s unlikely journey from art-school project to international icons shows just how rotten Russia has become and how much the mission has changed."
How Jihadists Are Blackmailing, Torturing, and Killing Gay Syrians. Even between the plush sofas and mood lighting of one of Beirut’s hippest bars, Ram shook with fear as he relived his ordeal. He turned his large green eyes from me to the translator and then back to me again, speaking in a low voice, even though we were the only people in the room. "I think I was targeted for two reasons: because I'm a Druze, and because I’m gay," he said. "They told us, ‘You are all perverts, and we are going to kill you to save the world.'"
In the Shadows. The healthcare and human rights challenges of the LGBT populations of Malawi -- where homosexuality is outlawed. Via
Women in Saudi Arabia may not drive. Today, many take to the road in protest, despite grave risks. Even cyber support may be grounds for arrest and the movement's primary website has been blocked. It's been an issue for decades; here's a writer remembering women donning disguises to drive and the sad case of a mother unable to take her injured child to the hospital. Driving may be the point of a sword aimed at securing other freedoms and attaining more autonomy.
“I’ll tell him how important education is, and that I even want education for your children as well. And I would tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.’” - Malala Yousafzai (previously), shot by the Taliban a year ago, talks to the Daily Show's Jon Stewart about what she would do if a gunman came to shoot her again, as they have promised.
On Monday, August 19 - day 43 of the strike a federal judge approved a request by state and federal prison authorities to engage the controversial practice of force-feed striking prisoners.[more inside]