Civil Liberties

Making Ethiopia’s Electoral Board Independent New Appointment Furthers Gender, Political Reform

New Appointment Furthers Gender, Political Reform Felix Horne HRW There was good news from Ethiopia as former opposition leader, lawyer and judge Birtukan Midekssa was named head of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE). Following years of almost completely closed political space, Ethiopia’s government continues to institute an important series of reforms. The appointment of a highly respected – and crucially, independent – new elections chair is another step in the right direction. The NEBE, like many of Ethiopia’s ... Read More »

81% of whistleblower cases end in negative repercussions, research says

New findings from Griffith University and Governance Institute have shown alarming levels of deleterious impacts of whistleblowing upon those who speak out, which the researchers say should… Jerome Doraisamy Lawyers Weekly While professional organisations support having whistleblowing policies in place, the reality is that whistleblowers are often not well treated, according to Governance Institute. The Whistling While They Work 2: Improving Managerial Responses to Whistleblowing in Public and Private Organisations has found that found 42 per cent of whistleblowers are ... Read More »

Catholic bishops take up fight against government’s assisted dying plan

Western Australia’s Catholic bishops – including Archbishop of Perth Timothy Costelloe – have released a joint statement outlining their opposition to state government plans to legalise voluntary assisted dying. Nathan Hondros WAtoday The statement, which will be distributed to hundreds of Catholic parishes throughout the state and signals the Church’s intention to campaign against the laws, challenges key elements of a parliamentary report that sparked the… “Voluntary assisted dying in either form [euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide] represents a radical breach ... Read More »

Detained and in danger: The tortured Australian families who fear for their missing loved ones

Increasingly helpless and desperate, Uighurs building new lives in Australian suburbs feel compelled to go public with their stories and identities despite the risks. Fergus Hunter The Age The security agents came for Adeham Abliz late on a Thursday night. That day, September 8, 2016, had been much like any other in the 59-year-old Uighur man’s life in the city of Ghulja in north-western China. Abliz, a shopkeeper, had performed his five daily prayers, starting with fajr at dawn through ... Read More »

Why Norman Geras’s essay ‘Our Morals’ should be essential reading for politics students – not a subversive threat

Politics students at the University of Reading were reportedly told to “take care” when reading an essay by the late political theorist, Norman Geras. Stephen De Wijze The Conversation The Observer newspaper reported the students were warned about the essay – which was on their reading list – in order not to fall foul of Prevent, the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy. I worked closely with Geras, who was a professor at the University of Manchester for most of his career. The ... Read More »

The Death of Democracy in Bangladesh

Democracy in Bangladesh hangs in the balance, and an upcoming election will mark a critical inflection point. Atif Ahmad, Michael Kugelman Image: Reuters The National Interest It’s not often that armed motorcyclists attack a U.S. ambassador, but that’s exactly what happened to Marcia Bernicat, Washington’s envoy in Bangladesh, one night this past summer. Bernicat was leaving a dinner party in Dhaka on August 4 when men on motorbikes chased her vehicle and threw bricks. No perpetrators were named in the ... Read More »

Why covering the environment is one of the most dangerous beats in journalism

From the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi by Saudi agents to President Trump’s clashes with the White House press corps, attacks on reporters are in the news. Eric Freedman The Conversation This problem extends far beyond the politics beat, and world leaders aren’t the only threats. At Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, we train students and professional journalists to report on what we view as the world’s most important beat. One hard fact is that those ... Read More »

Friday essay: turning up the level of civilisation

In October 2005 Stephen Colbert was just starting his eponymous show. It is somewhat chilling to realise that this was when he came up with the word truthiness: it seems so now. Julianne Schultz The Conversation It has taken a while to reach maturity and morphed into the even more menacing trumpiness. Truthiness captures the slippery world inhabited by those unencumbered by books, or facts, context or complexity – for those who just know with their heart rather than their ... Read More »

Duterte’s Philippines threatens news website with criminal charges

Shanghai: The Philippine government said Friday that it would charge a veteran journalist and her online news startup with tax evasion, a move the publication described as an attack against media in the country by the… The Sydney Morning Herald The New York Times The country’s Department of Justice said it had grounds to indict the startup, Rappler, and its founder, Maria Ressa, for tax evasion and failure to file tax returns. Rappler denied the charges, calling the case a “clear ... Read More »

Snowden issues surveillance warning to Israelis

U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden urged Israelis to be on guard against heavy-handed government and private surveillance in a speech by video link on Nov. 6 and defended his 2013 massive… TEL AVIV – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet Snowden highlighted Israel‘s high-tech capabilities, but warned that accepting too much government surveillance and too easily acceding to the argument that it is needed for security reasons… “If we can allow ourselves to be terrorized by someone with nothing but a knife, to reorder our societies for the convenience ... Read More »

Australia calls on China to end its ‘alarming’ mass detention of Muslims

The Australian government has expressed “alarm” at China’s crackdown against Muslim minorities and called for an end to the detention of up to 1 million people in indoctrination… Fergus Hunter WAtoday, with Reuters In the strongest Australian intervention yet on the Chinese government campaign, officials delivered a statement at the United Nations highlighting reports that minority groups and… “Australia shares the UN [Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s] alarm at numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uighurs ... Read More »

The Arab Winter Is Coming

Gulf states are asserting themselves more than ever, and that’s a problem for the U.S. Hassan Hassan The Atlantic Three years ago, then Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter attributed Iran’s growing dominance to its being “in the game, on the ground.” He urged its regional rivals to do the same, thus expressing a widely shared sentiment in policy circles at the time: Arab Gulf states need to rely less on the U.S. and play a greater role in their neighborhood. ... Read More »

Asia Bibi blasphemy case: Husband pleads for asylum

The husband of a Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy after eight years on death row has pleaded for asylum from the UK, US or Canada. BBC Asia Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, said they were in great danger in Pakistan. The Supreme Court overturned Asia Bibi’s conviction on Wednesday, saying the case against her was based on flimsy evidence. Her acquittal sparked violent protests, and the government has now agreed to try to stop her leaving the country. On Saturday, ... Read More »

A Flawed European Ruling on Free Speech

The European Court of Human Rights invoked “religious peace” as a reason to limit criticisms of the Prophet Muhammad. Simon Cottee The Atlantic According to dominant Islamic traditions, the Prophet Muhammad’s third wife Aisha was six years old at their marriage and nine at its consummation. Muslims, as Graeme Wood has pointed out, have debated the issue of Aisha’s age for a very long time, and critics of Islam seemingly can’t keep off the subject. In the fall of 2009, a woman referred to as ... Read More »

Tanzania: Anti-gay crackdown in Dar es Salaam

A Tanzanian governor has announced the creation of a surveillance squad dedicated to hunting down gay people. BBC Paul Makonda, governor of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, told reporters round-ups would begin next week. The team will scrutinise social media in order to track down and arrest people in same sex couples, he added. Homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania, where anti-gay rhetoric has been on the rise since President John Magufuli’s election in 2015. Many gay, lesbian and ... Read More »

Asia Bibi: Pakistan court overturns blasphemy death sentence

Christian woman to be freed after being sentenced in 2010, accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad Memphis Barker The Guardian Pakistan’s supreme court has struck down the death sentence for blasphemy handed down to Christian woman Asia Bibi, in a long-delayed, landmark decision that has seen the judiciary praised for its bravery in the face of threats of violence and protest from the country’s Islamist groups. The court, in a three-member bench led by chief justice Saqib Nisar, released the ... Read More »