In the News

News Update

June 29, 2016

By Alison L. Schmidt, Esq.

News and Legislation Associate


Poland: Poland’s ambassador in London has expressed shock and concern about incidents of xenophobic abuse directed against the Polish community in the UK following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Dozens of alleged racist incidents against Poles and other eastern Europeans were reported to the police in parts of England over the weekend.

Armenia: The Armenian president says he expects more countries to recognize the 1915 massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire a century ago as a ”genocide” after high-profile remarks made in the global community. After Pope Francis made a three-day visit to Armenia, he called the slaughter of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks at the beginning of the 20th century a “genocide” — and warned about divisions in Europe.


Bangladesh: Transnational armed groups, including ISIS and affiliates of Al-Qaeda, have attacked secular bloggers, gay-rights activists and followers of minority religions who have been targeted in Bangladesh since last year. Police launched a nationwide crackdown last week and arrested more than 3,000 people.  Bangladesh’s prime minister vowed to catch “each and every killer.”

Myanmar: The United States has placed Myanmar on its global list of worst offenders in human trafficking, officials said, a move aimed at prodding the country’s new democratically- elected government and its still-powerful military to do more to curb the use of child soldiers and forced labor. Myanmar’s demotion, part of the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report to be released on Thursday, also appears intended to send a message of U.S. concern about continued widespread persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority nation.

North Korea: While North Korea’s dismal human rights record has been overshadowed of late by its latest round of provocative nuclear and missile tests, the United Nations is continuing to build the case to prosecute Kim Jong Un and his leadership for crimes against humanity. In 2014 a U.N. Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights in North Korea issued a report documenting a network of political prisons in the country holding 120,000 people and a list of atrocities that include “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence.”

Middle East

Yemen: A wave of suicide bombings has killed at least 38 Yemeni soldiers in the country’s southeast, just as they were about to break their fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Fighters pledging allegiance to ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks. Another 24 people, including women and children, were injured in the blasts.

Syria: Weapons shipped into Jordan by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels have been systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, according to American and Jordanian officials. Some of the stolen weapons were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, FBI officials believe after months of investigating the attack.

Syria: Government air strikes across rebel-held Aleppo and the deliberate targeting of medical facilities present yet another deadly challenge for pregnant women and newborn infants in the besieged city. Public transportation and taxis stop running at night for fear of attacks and pregnant women in need of urgent care must wait until the next morning to reach the clinic. “Sometimes women give birth at the hospital’s door,” said Dr Malek.  Malek also noted that the lack of medical facilities, doctors, and unsafe access to hospitals has led to an upsurge of clandestine clinics run by “inexperienced and uncertified midwives.”

Iran: An international volleyball tournament in the Iranian capital has thrown into sharp relief a debate in international sporting associations on how to deal with nations that restrict women’s rights as athletes and/or spectators. How the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) evaluates next month’s World League in Tehran is likely to shape debate on how international sports should handle countries guilty of violations of women’s and human rights.


Senegal: Children in sub-Saharan Africa face the highest levels of mortality, poor nutrition, child marriage and illiteracy, UNICEF said in its flagship “State of the World’s Children” report released on Tuesday. By 2030, nearly half of the world’s 69 million children who are predicted age five would live in the region, according to the report. Sub-Saharan Africa is also expected to be home to 9 out of 10 of the 167 million children living in extreme poverty by 2030, living under $1.90 per person a day, the U.N.’s children’s agency said.

North America

United States: The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a contentious abortion law in Texas that imposed strict regulations that made it harder for women to get an abortion.

United States: Gun ownership rights can be denied to people who commit reckless acts of domestic violence, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a decision that brought a blistering dissent from Justice Clarence Thomas. The federal law was intended to deny guns to people convicted of violent acts against family members, based on research showing they are more likely to use guns domestically in the future.

United States: New York City’s Stonewall Inn was recognized Monday as the first national monument honoring the gay-rights movement. Federal, state, and local officials gathered at the Greenwich Village site of the 1969 riots that became a watershed moment in the struggle for gay rights and unveiled a new sign commemorating the Stonewall National Monument.

Haiti: The Dominican Republic has unlawfully expelled hundreds of Dominicans to Haiti who have been caught in the middle of a wave of returns and deportations of more than 100,000 people in recent months.

South and Central America

Brazil: The governor of Rio de Janeiro issued a new decree authorizing cuts in  social services and security ahead of the Rio Olympics. “The decision…. is not only shocking but incredibly worrying, particularly given Rio’s utterly poor record when it comes to homicides and police killings,” said Atila Roque, Brazil Director at Amnesty International.

Uruguay: A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner living in Uruguay has vanished under mysterious circumstances, the Washington Post reports. Law enforcement is now searching for the former detainee, Jihad Ahmed Mustafa Dhiab, a Syrian national.