Displaying items by tag: human rights abuses

A court in Nicaragua has found seven critics of the government of Daniel Ortega guilty of conspiracy in what human rights groups have denounced as a ‘political trial’. Among those convicted are three opposition leaders who had planned to run in the 2021 election. Dozens of government critics were detained in the run-up to the poll, in which Mr Ortega won a fifth term. In a trial held at El Chipote prison behind closed doors, the judges found the seven guilty of ‘conspiracy to undermine national integrity’. The prosecution has asked for sentences ranging between eight and 13 years. This is the latest in a wave of trials against opponents of Ortega. Earlier in February, two of his most outspoken critics - Dora Téllez and Lesther Alemán - were also found guilty of conspiracy in trials dismissed by rights groups as a ‘sham’. Recently, another jailed opposition leader, Hugo Torres, died while awaiting trial.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 27 January 2022 20:02

CAR: UN probing alleged killings

The UN is investigating the death of people in the Central African Republic (CAR) by government forces and mercenaries with the Russian private military company Wagner. Over thirty civilians were killed, some by stray bullets, in the 16-17 January operation which targeted the Union for Peace rebel group. The UN mission known as MINUSCA received reports of the incident involving CAR troops and ‘other security personnel’. They sent a human rights team and security personnel there to assess the situation and take necessary measures to protect civilians. A military source, declining to be identified, suggested that the fighting is continuing, with forces and Russians committing massacres. ‘There have been summary executions and about fifty deaths.’ UN experts expressed concerns over ‘grave human rights abuses’ by the Wagner group, who take orders from the Russian defence ministry.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 07 November 2019 22:06

Chile: inequality triggers protests

For decades political leaders have promised that free markets would lead to prosperity, which would take care of other problems. The promises came to nothing, and thousands of protesters are chanting, ‘Chile, wake up’. The middle class struggles with high prices, low wages, a privatised retirement system, and the elderly in bitter poverty. A series of corruption and tax-evasion scandals eroded faith in the political and corporate elite. While protests began peacefully over three weeks ago, now there are images of metro stations destroyed, supermarkets looted, and flaming street barricades. There are accusations of torture and abuse by the 200,000 security forces, who have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators. Social media is reporting many deaths. The UN is investigating human rights abuses. Two centuries after independence from Spain, the Catholic Christian faith of the conquistadors remains the largest in Chile today. Pray for the Church’s voice of peace and justice to be heard.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 15 August 2019 22:04

Hong Kong: one country two systems?

Please pray for resolution between Hong Kong's pro-democracy people and China’s government. After police firing as many rounds of tear gas in one day as during the entire months of June and July, a general strike, and days of disruptions at Hong Kong Airport, protesters are now being called terrorists and China’s ambassador to the UK has warned that troops will intervene to restore order if necessary. Videos show a massive number of Chinese military vehicles gathering along the border. Hong Kong has its own legal system, borders, and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech, which are all meant to be protected. But things are changing. Rights groups accuse China of meddling in Hong Kong with legal rulings that disqualify pro-democracy legislators; also, five Hong Kong booksellers and a tycoon disappeared, all eventually re-emerging in custody in China. Artists and writers are under increased pressure to self-censor.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 01 November 2018 23:42

Egypt: detention and torture

Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently published evidence suggesting that Egyptian security forces forcibly detained American taxi driver Khaled Hassan, an American-Egyptian dual citizen, and tortured him. Yet instead of supporting their call for the government to investigate, or even expressing concern, the state information service denied any wrongdoing and continues to undermine the work of HRW and similar groups. The National Security Agency seized Hassan in January and presented him to prosecutors in May. In the intervening months he was beaten, subjected to prolonged stress positions, tortured with electric shocks, and raped twice. Forensic experts reviewing photos of his wounds said they were consistent with torture. During his disappearance, Hassan’s family filed many complaints with the authorities but received no information on his whereabouts. Torture and enforced disappearance are crimes under international and Egyptian law.

Published in Worldwide