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German President to Boycott Sochi Olympics

Joachim Gauck cites Russia's human rights abuses

(Newser) - German President Joachim Gauck has become the highest-profile political figure to say "nyet" to next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The former pastor, whose position is largely ceremonial, says he plans to stay away because of the Putin regime's human rights abuses and harassment of the... More »

Malala Wins Top EU Human Rights Award

Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Skyi among previous winners

(Newser) - European lawmakers have awarded their top human rights prize to Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt last year. The European Parliament announced today that 16-year-old Malala, who has also been mentioned as a possible recipient of tomorrow's Nobel peace prize , won the $65,000 Sakharov... More »

Snowden Nominated for Coveted Human Rights Prize

In running for Europe's Sakharov Prize

(Newser) - Past winners of the Sakharov Prize, a human rights prize for freedom of thought, include Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi—and soon Edward Snowden could join their ranks. The NSA leaker is one of seven nominees for the prize this year after getting a nod from the Greens... More »

J.Lo Has Made $10M Singing for Dictators

Human Rights Foundation uncovers a slew of other instances

(Newser) - After it came out that Jennifer Lopez scored a big payday to sing happy birthday to Turkmenistan dictator Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov , her rep insisted that had J.Lo known of any "human rights issues," she of course would not have attended the soiree. But the Human Rights Foundation implies... More »

UN to Finally Probe N. Korea's Secret Gulags

Prison camps could amount to crimes against humanity: official

(Newser) - The UN Human Rights Council has unanimously agreed to launch its first-ever investigation of human rights abuses in North Korea. An investigator urged a focus on prison camps , which "could qualify as crimes against humanity," he said. "These are camps which have the purpose of driving the... More »

Twist in 12-Year Hunger Strike: Attempted Suicide Charge

India slaps charge on Irom Sharmila, who last voluntarily ate in 2000

(Newser) - The last time Irom Sharmila ate a meal by her own hand was Nov. 4, 2000. In the 12-plus years since, the 40-year-old Indian known as the "Iron Lady" has been on a hunger strike to protest India's Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives the military wide-ranging... More »

In First, Israel Bails on UN Human Rights Review

Calls it a tool for 'bashing' Israel

(Newser) - Israel today became the first nation to boycott a UN human rights review, the New York Times reports. Israel had informally notified the Human Rights Council that it would not attend today's session in Geneva, where it was supposed to take part in the Universal Periodic Review process, and... More »

Torture Reports Halt US-Afghan Detainee Transfer

Human rights abuses could stop funding for Afghan troops

(Newser) - Amid word of inhumane treatment, including torture, the US has halted the transfer of detainees to some Afghan prisons, the New York Times reports. And with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai seeking internal control of detention, the decision is likely to further strain the countries' relationship. The move also comes with... More »

UN Honcho: We Must Investigate North Korea

Navi Pillay: Nuke worries overshadowing human-rights crisis

(Newser) - As the world keeps a vigilant eye on North Korea's nuclear program, the country's long list of human rights violations continue to slip under the radar, charges the United Nation's human rights head. The offenses, which have shown no sign of abating under Kim Jong Un, have... More »

China: We're Reforming Forced Labor Camps

Controversial program was said to be used against political activists

(Newser) - China's first step toward the reform promised by new leader Xi Jinping : The country will reform its forced labor camp system, state media reported today. The long-standing, controversial "re-education through labor system" allows police to jail petty criminals for up to four years without going through the court... More »

With Eye on Obama Visit, Burma Frees 452 Prisoners

But activists criticized move

(Newser) - Burma ordered 452 prisoners freed today in an apparent goodwill gesture ahead of a historic visit by President Barack Obama—but activists criticized the move for failing to focus on hundreds of political detainees. It was not immediately clear if any political prisoners were among those granted freedom, prompting rights... More »

Cambodian Activist, 71, Sentenced to 20 Years

Sonando accused of attempting to overthrow government

(Newser) - Cambodian-French radio broadcaster and activist Sonando, 71, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for attempting to overthrow the country's government, according to a Phnom Penh court. Some 13 others were also found guilty of inciting a rebellion among villagers, Reuters reports. Sonando pleaded not guilty to the... More »

US Trade Pact With Vietnam Is a Travesty

Allen Weiner says Vietnam has been stifling dissent, violating human rights

(Newser) - The US plans to enter into a trade pact with Vietnam by the end of the year—and in the process "sell out human rights" in the country, professor Allen Weiner writes in the Washington Post . Indeed, Hillary Clinton announced the pact last month just ahead of the one-year... More »

US Is Selling Out Uzbekistan

We ignore strategic ally's human rights abuses: Former prisoner

(Newser) - The US media rarely mentions Uzbekistan, but human rights there are in a deplorable state. Just ask Sanjar Umarov, who was jailed and tortured for years for speaking out against the massacre of mostly peaceful protesters in 2005. "I was drugged, beaten, falsely accused of directing the uprising,"... More »

Syria Running 'Torture Archipelago': Rights Group

Detainees beaten, burned, electrocuted, sexually assaulted

(Newser) - Bashar al-Assad's regime has been running a "torture archipelago," Human Rights Watch alleged today, documenting vicious abuses at a string of 27 Syrian detention facilities. The New York-based group interviewed more than 200 former detainees and Syrian defectors, who say prisoners were routinely beaten with batons and... More »

America Has Abandoned Human Rights

Jimmy Carter slams counterterror techniques of past decade

(Newser) - Ever since the 9/11 attacks, the US has put human rights on the back burner—a grave problem in a country that should be "the global champion of human rights," writes Jimmy Carter. In 1948, we committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; today, "our government’... More »

Syrian Rebels Accused of Kidnapping, Torture

Human rights group calls out freedom fighters for abuses

(Newser) - It's tempting to paint the conflict in Syria as a brutal regime fighting virtuous rebels, but Human Rights Watch today issued an open letter to the Free Syrian Army accusing insurgents of a variety of brutalities, including kidnapping and torturing security forces and government supporters. "The Syrian government'... More »

Germany Advised to Stop Castrating Sex Offenders

Anti-torture panel at human rights watchdog calls practice 'degrading'

(Newser) - Germany doesn't mess around when it comes to sex offenders—serious offenders can volunteer to be surgically castrated—but now an anti-torture committee says the country should put an end to that practice, Reuters reports. The panel at the Strasbourg Council, Europe's top human rights watchdog, called the... More »

Human Rights Groups Need Drones

They don't have to be just flying assassins

(Newser) - Drones have transformed warfare, but they're "not just for firing missiles in Pakistan," anti-genocide activists Andrew Sniderman and Mark Hanis argue in the New York Times . Their radical proposal: Human rights groups should be buying drones, and using them to keep an eye on brutal governments. Imagine... More »

Internet Is a Tool, Not a Right

Access enables rights, but is not a right itself: Vinton G. Cerf

(Newser) - With Facebook and Twitter fueling protests across the Arab world, many wonder: Is the Internet a human or civil right? No, declares Google VP Vinton G. Cerf firmly. Courts in various countries have declared it so, but the UN stopped short, calling the Internet "an indispensable tool for realizing... More »

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