Maldives to rejoin Commonwealth after former leader quit over human rights criticism

The new government of the Maldives will rejoin the Commonwealth, two years after the country’s former president pulled out in protest of the group raising concerns over the country’s democracy and human rights. In a statement on Monday, President Ibramih Mohamed Solih’s office said the decision to participate in the Commonwealth of Nations again had been taking into account the education and cultural advantages. The Maldivian cabinet also noted the importance of Commonwealth membership “in keeping in line with other members of the international community with regard to upholding and promoting...

US Congress introduces bi-partisan bill proposing sanctions against China over Uighur Muslims

A group of bipartisan US Congressional representatives introduced a bill into the Senate and House of Representatives demanding a sterner response from the Trump administration over China’s human rights record. The bill proposes targeted sanctions on the Chinese government, the ruling party and officials such as Xinjiang party secretary Chen Quanguo who are “credibly alleged to be responsible for human rights abuses in Xinjiang and elsewhere”. It further calls upon US intelligence to monitor the security threat posed by China’s crack down, to investigate the companies involved in establishing...

Central African Republic MP extradited to Hague over war crimes charges

A sitting Member of Parliament, accused by the UN of carrying out war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Central African Republic’s Muslim community, has been detained and extradited to the Hague, reports ABC news. Alfred Yekatom, also a former militia leader, was wanted for the murder, deportation and torture, enforced disappearance and mutilation. The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Yekatom on November 11 “for his alleged criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity.” In a statement released after the extradition on Saturday to the...

West pressures Saudi Arabia and UAE for Yemen ceasefire

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are facing increasing pressure from the West to agree to a ceasefire in Yemen to prevent the country from plunging into mass famine. This has led to the halt of the Saudi led coalition’s offensive against the Houthis in the port city of Hodeidah. The offensive on this strategic port was relaunched last month in an effort to cut off Houthi ruled areas from their main supply route. Western allies including the US and the UK are pressing for a ceasefire in Yemen and are encouraging 'both sides' to participate in political talks. The UK and the US...

World Bank withdraws $300 million loan to Tanzania; EU recalls ambassador over human rights situation

The World Bank rescinded a $300 million loan to Tanzania on Thursday in response to a number of controversial laws passed by the legislature over recent months. Last month Tanzanian legislators passed amendments to Statistics Acts that criminalised public dissemination of statistical information contradicting official government figures. The European Union announced that it was reviewing its policies toward Tanzania, stating “The EU and its member states are concerned about recent political developments in Tanzania. Taking into account all these elements, the European Union and its member...

Khmer Rouge leaders charged with Cambodia genocide by international tribunal

Two leaders of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia have been found guilty of genocide by a UN backed-tribunal, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The genocide was conducted against the Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese population, who were subject to a litany of crimes including murder, extermination, enslavement and torture. The two men sentenced, Noun Chea, deputy of regime leader Pol Pot and head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, were already sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity. The Khmer Rouge regime was instituted in 1975 after a coup against...

US sanctions 17 Saudi officials linked with Khashoggi murder

The US treasury imposed fresh sanctions on 17 Saudi officials allegedly implicated with the murder of US resident and Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In a statement released on Thursday, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Kashoggi. These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions.” The statement further added: “At the time of Khashoggi’s killing, these individuals occupied positions in the Royal Court...

Mass graves of Franco victims excavated in Spain

Archeologists have begun excavating mass graves in Spain dating back to the dictatorship of General Franco in order to try and identify victimes. Over 2000 victims have been uncovered so far. The majority of the bodies currently being excavated are expected to be leftists who were sentenced to death by military judges between 1939-1956, the first half of General Franco’s military dictatorship. Despite over 4 decades since the death of Franco, there was no coordinated effort to identify victims. Local historian Vincent Gabarda, who unearthed Franco era registers listing almost 2300 executions...

Hamas and Israel agree to ceasefire after an escalation of violence in Gaza

Hamas and Israel have agreed to an Egyptian mediated ceasefire negotiation following two days of escalated violence. The proposed ceasefire agreement offers to reduce Israel’s blockade of Gaza and open entry points through which people may travel into Israel. The current escalation in the conflict was sparked after Israel attempted a military raid on Gaza on Sunday which resulted in the deaths of seven Hamas fighters and one of their Lieutenant Colonels. In retaliation Hamas launched 400 rockets into Israel, a hundred of which were blocked by Israeli’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Israel in return bombed 100 sites including those used for civilian purposes. These include civilian buildings, the Al-Aqsa TV channel, the Al-Amal hotel, a Hamas-run television building and a building Israel claimed was used for military purposes but Palestinians say housed a kindergarten. Three large residential buildings in Gaza were also destroyed.

UN will not aid Myanmar with long-term camps for returning Rohingya Muslims

A confidential briefing paper circulated within the UNHRC revealed that the United Nations is not willing to provide humanitarian assistance to the returning Rohingya Muslims, if they are interned in camps. Instead, the UN has said it will only support resettlement on the condition that returnees are resettled into the “places of refugees’ origin or choice”. The UN “will not provide individual assistance in situations of encampment, including in reception facilities or transit camps, unless they are clearly temporary in nature and used for the sole purpose of facilitating free movement to...

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