Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Friends of a Free Venezuela: Wife of Venezuela's most prominent political prisoner speaks out

Lilian Tintori, the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader and political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez, today challenged President Nicolas Maduro to release her husband and more than 100 other political prisoners, given the government's failure to produce evidence or respect their human rights.  Tintori, along with Leopoldo's mother, father and two sisters, appeared at the National Press Club as part of an ongoing international tour that has included stops in Latin America and Europe.

"No one in the world should doubt why Leopoldo is in prison.  President Maduro is afraid of him," said Tintori.  "My husband needs the support of all countries around the world that stand for freedom.  We need a clear message sent to President Maduro and the Government of Venezuela that it cannot trample on the rights of its people with impunity."

Tintori was joined by Lopez's international human rights lawyer Jared Genser, who  released a white paper documenting numerous violations of legal due process and human rights that have been committed before and since Lopez's arrest on February 19, 2014.   

"After an exhaustive review of the government's case and actions against Mr. Lopez, this is as clear cut a case of political injustice you will find anywhere in the world," said Genser.  "The prosecution and judiciary has acted on the direct orders of the political leadership; they have presented no evidence against Mr. Lopez; they have not allowed eyewitnesses to speak and they have rejected numerous items of evidence including video proving Mr. Lopez's innocence; there has not been even the pretense of due process."
"Until the world acts to hold the Venezuelan government accountable, it will continue to lock up its dissenters with impunity," said Genser.

Lopez's trial was scheduled to begin this week, on July 23, although past court dates have been postponed with little warning or explanation.  Lopez has been held in isolation in a military prison since his arrest.  The government has charged him with public incitement, damage to property, fire damage and "association for conspiracy."

A copy of the white paper is available here
Download a copy of Lilian Tintori's remarks
Lilian Tintori's Op-Ed in The Washington Post

SOURCE Friends of a Free Venezuela


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Friday, 18 July 2014

Khmer Communities Outraged by Recent Remarks made by Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia Regarding the History of Kampuchea-Krom

The following is a joint statement by Cambodia National Rescue Foundation (CNRF), Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF), Cambodian-American for Human Rights and Democracy (CAHRAD), Khmer People Network for Cambodia (KPNC), Cambodia National Rescue Party in USA (CRNP-USA), Cambodian-American Communities and Cambodian Communities Oversea:

Cambodian Americans across the United States of America as well as other overseas Cambodian communities' members around the world are outraged by the recent remarks made by the Vietnamese Embassy spokesman Trung Van Thong to Cambodia that the former Kampuchea Krom provinces belonged to Vietnam long before French Colonialist officially transferred control to Cochinchina governor in 1949.
The remarks have not only offended Khmer Krom communities around the world, but also  misled the public about the true history of the Khmer Krom.

We demand the Vietnamese government to retract the remarks made by its Embassy Spokesman in Phnom-Penh, Cambodia, Mr. Trung Van Thong, and publicly make an apology to Khmer people. 

Vibol Touch, Coordinator

SOURCE Cambodia National Rescue Foundation (CNRF)


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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Syrian child marriage in Jordan has doubled since start of war

 Early and forced marriage among Syrian refugee girls in Jordan has doubled since the onset of war, Save the Children said today.

Data collected by UNICEF shows a quarter of all Syrian refugee marriages registered in Jordan now involve a girl under the age of 18. Save the Children said that extreme poverty and increasing fears of sexual violence among Syrian refugee communities mean that some parents feel they have no choice but to marry their daughters to keep them 'protected.' 

Child marriage did exist in pre-conflict Syria — at 13 percent of all marriages — but the latest figures show that this figure has doubled for those girls that have fled to Jordan, and that half (48 percent) are being forced to marry men at least 10 years older than they are.

"Child marriage is devastating for those girls concerned," said Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles. "Girls who marry before 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence than their peers who marry later, and they have much more limited access to sexual and reproductive health, putting their young bodies at extreme risk if and when they become pregnant."

Save the Children's new report, "Too Young to Wed: The Growing Problem of Child Marriage Among Syrian Girls in Jordan," spells out a number of reasons why families are opting for early marriage for their daughters. As refugees, Syrian families are reliant on dwindling resources and lacking economic opportunities. At the same time, they are all too aware of the need to protect their daughters from the threat of sexual violence. Given these pressures, some families consider child marriage to be the best way to protect their female children and ease family resources. 

Children who drop out of school are more likely to marry, and conversely, children who get married are more likely to drop out of education, with girls expected to leave school in order to care for their husband and home, or to begin childbearing and childcare.

However, "Too Young to Wed" also points to the "determined resistance" of some refugee families, noting cases of mothers' resolute rejection of child marriage. Among the reasons mothers gave were that their daughters were too young, and that they wanted their daughters to complete their education.
"These girls, who by fleeing the war in Syria have already been subjected to more than any child should, are at extreme risk of mental-health issues resulting from social isolation, stress and abuse," said Miles. "But the repercussions of forced marriage can be physical, as well as mental – and even deadly. The consequences for girls' health of engaging in sexual activity while their bodies are still developing are devastating: girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than fully-grown women."

Save the Children, along with partners, runs community awareness-raising programs with children, adolescents and parents in Jordan, with a focus on preventing child marriage. 

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood-- every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.  

SOURCE Save the Children

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Finds the University of Texas-Austin Race Preferences Constitutional

 A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found the racial and ethnic classifications and preferences of the Univ. of Texas's admissions polices to be constitutional.

The case, Abigail Fisher v. Univ. of Texas, was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2013. In a 7-1 opinion authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy (Justice Kagan recused), the justices vacated an earlier ruling by the same three-judge panel writing that the Fifth Circuit did not properly apply the correct legal standard for using race preferences in the admissions process. The case was then remanded back to the panel for the application of the proper legal standard know as "strict scrutiny." 

Last November, during arguments in Austin, Texas before the panel, Ms. Fisher's lawyers argued that UT was precluded from using racial and ethnic classifications and preferences because of the success of the race-neutral  Top Ten Percent Plan which resulted in greater minority diversity at UT than did an earlier racial preference program. Strict scrutiny requires that a university implement race-neutral admissions policies to achieve diversity before lastly resorting to race preferences.

Abigail Fisher said, "It is disappointing that the judges hearing my case are not following the Supreme Court's ruling last summer. I remain committed to continuing this lawsuit even if it means we appeal to the Supreme Court once again."

Fisher added, "It is a shame that for the last six years, hundreds of UT applicants were denied admission because of UT's racial and ethnic preferences."

Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation (POFR), said, "While disappointing, this opinion was not unexpected based upon the questioning and comments made by the court during our last hearing in November."

Blum continued, "This panel was proven wrong last year by the Supreme Court and we believe it will be proven wrong once again on appeal."

POFR is a legal defense foundation based in Alexandria, Virginia that has provided pro bono legal representation to individuals and jurisdictions in a number of important U.S. Supreme Court cases, including in NW Austin MUD v. Holder, Shelby Co. Ala. v. Holder and Abigail Fisher v. Univ. of Texas-Austin

SOURCE The Project on Fair Representation

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Cypriot Group Files Historic War Crimes Complaint In Hague Against Turkey

A coalition of Cypriots, including a European parliamentarian, have filed a criminal complaint against Turkish government officials in the International Criminal Court ("ICC") in The Hague today. The petitioners call on the ICC prosecutor to open an investigation into ongoing Turkish crimes on the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, and in particular, the continued growth of Turkish settlements in the occupied territory. The Turkish occupation is one of the most brazen settlement enterprises in modern times, as colonists from the Turkish mainland now constitute as much as half the population of the occupied territory.

The communication is being filed by the Hon. Kostas Mavrides, a member of the European Parliament from Cyprus and Cypriots Against Turkish War Crimes (CATWR), an association of mainly Cypriots and refugees from the Turkish invasion of the Republic of Cyprus

The Shurat HaDin Law Center assisted in researching and drafting the complaint. 

This unprecedented demand for a war crimes investigation seeks to end the impunity Turkey has enjoyed for its criminal conduct since it invaded the island Republic on July 20, 1974.  Turkey's settlement activity in northern Cyprus is well-documented, having been recognized by the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations. Yet despite this, and despite its occupation of an EU member state, Turkey and its leaders have avoided any legal consequences for their crimes. 

An investigation by the Court's prosecutor would be the first attempt to shine the harsh light of international criminal justice on the Turkish occupation.  The complaint demonstrates that Turkey is in blatant and systematic violation of Art. 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Court's Statute, which prohibits an occupying power from directly or indirectly transferring its civilians into the occupied territory. Turkey has, continuously since the invasion, recruited, encouraged and transported Turks from rural areas of the mainland to come settle the occupied territory.  The demographic magnitude of the settler establishment threatens the feasibility of a mutually-acceptable end to the conflict.

According to MEP Kostas Mavrides : "The settlement and other crimes committed in the occupied part of Cyprus by Turkish officers is not a political issue. It is a matter of international law and justice. Now, it is up to the ICC to investigate the facts and decide in favour of civilization and human rights."

Cyprus has been a member of the Court since its establishment in 2002.  No nation recognizes the legitimacy of sovereignty of the Turkish occupation regime in northern Cyprus. Thus, the ICC clearly has jurisdiction over the war crimes committed by the Turkish government in the occupied territory. 

CATWR is represented by Athan Tsimpedes based in Washington DC, who has initiated a lawsuit against the illegal occupation in the US Courts. 
To view the communication CLICK HERE

SOURCE Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center

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