The latest and shocking news from Washington has seen the nation and the world up in arms over Trumps latest policy. In a baffling move to undo the progress that the Obama administration made regarding transgender individuals, Trumps cohort has announced a new plan to define gender in a manner which could eradicate transgender recognition.
During the Obama administration a definition of gender was adopted that interpreted ‘sex’ to include ‘gender identiy’. It permitted recognition based on an individuals preference and psychological factors, meaning it was not restricted to gender at birth. There were problems reported as a consequence of this, such as conflict over the use of bathrooms, sleeping areas, or single sex arenas. However, these problems could seemingly have been resolved through education, more consideration or other dispute resolution means. To backtrack on the progress made and redefine the meaning of gender seems an unwarranted and disproportionate act in light of these problems. Read More »
More progressive news in the human rights sphere to report on today. Todays post will celebrate the actions of Japan as they make progress towards combatting LGBT discrimination.
On the 5th October 2018, Tokyo Metropolitan Government passed an act which bans the discrimination of others that is fuelled by sexual orientation or gender identity. The new law prohibits the use of public spaces to make hate speech in any capacity, thus perturbing haters who will now face charges if they breach the law. Additionally, the new act requires the public education of LGBT rights to be carried out through schools and the wider society. This is a welcomed step in the strive for equality, a universal right, in todays ever evolving society.
The law comes as a result of Tokyo hosting the 2020 olympics in the strive to foster peaceful games that are “inclusive and rights-respecting”. This is also largely due to the Read More »
A shorter post this week bringing you a positive news update from Malaysia! The death penalty is a controversial topic with extremely divided opinion worldwide. Yes we are talking about criminals, but personally, I am against it and I am delighted to hear that Malaysia are making a monumental move to abolish their death sentence. In this major advancement pushed by their new government, Malaysia are set to join the 142 other countries who have banished the death penalty.
“[T]he new government has shown that “it is a force for moral good, and an example for the region and the world.” – Lawyers for Liberty/CBS News
It was announced last week that the cabinet have accepted the bill to abolish the death penalty. Over the last ten years Malaysia has executed 35 individuals. Currently there are over 1,200 being held on death row in Malaysia, this includes Malaysians and foreign nationals. In the bid to abolish capital punishment the government is urged to not only ban future impositions of the death penalty, but extend a moratorium to those currently awaiting capital punishment in the country. Furthermore, a lawyer from Lawyers for Liberty (a Malaysian rights group) has added that once this abolition is complete,Read More »
To continue on the very large theme that is the Rohingya Refugee Crisis, I bring you another post to discuss just one legal concept….genocide. A sombre concept but frighteningly applicable to the events leading up to the Rohingya refugee crisis (background of this in last post). As previously stated, UN officials have gone as far as to describe the actions of the Myanmarese military and their Buddhist counterparts towards the Rohingya as genocidal. Unarguably the violence directed at the Rohingya was grave, devastating and fatal in nature. It was horrific enough to undoubtedly violate many international human rights, humanitarian and criminal laws. Yet, however much we would like to penalise the guilty party for genocide, does it legally fit the bill?
Definition of Genocide
We may all have in our minds our own idea of genocide that I imagine resembles something like ‘an outstandingly vile and catastrophic event whereby mass amounts of humans are arbitrarily killed’. However, to hold someone/something accountable for Read More »
Inspired by the last post on statelessness, I thought it fitting that the next one should be a whole post dedicated to one of the largest stateless populations in the world, the Rohingya Muslims. What follows is not a post focused on a specific human rights issues, but a more general overview, almost a story, of a population plunged into complete crisis and forced to battle numerous human rights issues everyday. It is not the briefest of posts but decades of unwarranted suffering endured by the Rohingya has earned them more respect than a ‘summary’.
The Rohingya Muslims. A population who are victims of relentless persecution. The majority of Rohingya Muslims alive today have never experienced a life free from persecution. The Rohingya population reside in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, one of the poorest and most basic in the country, and claim to be descendants of Muslim traders who settled in the region centuries ago. However, a long history which has seen Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country home to over one hundred different ethnicities, unwilling to accept Rohingya Muslims, has made survival for the Rohingya a constant battle.
“The more than one million Rohingya Muslims are described as the ‘world’s most persecuted minority‘” – Al Jazeera
Citizenship and statehood is not something that the majority of us will think about day to day. They are aspects of our life that for most are a given from birth, but for some, statehood is a struggle with the potential to turn lives upside down. As of December 2017, the UNHCR recorded 3.2million individuals officially existing as stateless people, with the true number expected to be even higher.
“[S]tatelessness involves high political stakes worldwide and therefore remains among the most overlooked issues on the human rights agenda.” – Al Jazeera
A person is stateless when they are “not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law” (1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, art. 1). Sounds crazy right? How can someone not ‘have’ a country, surely everyone comes from or belongs somewhere? The easy answer is yes, everyone does come from somewhere. But, owing to technicalities in laws and practices, millions of people around the world fall into a void, a no mans land if you like, where they live a life without the luxury of status or belonging. Statelessness creates a chasm between an individual and their community and prohibits them from living life in harmony with the society around them.
Without going into the technicalities of the nationality laws of every country in the world, these are the four predominant reasons that the UNHCR have identified as the causes of statelessness.
Gaps in poorly written nationality laws which prevent nationality being passed on. Nationality laws are decided by the state. Most commonly states depict that you can ascertain citizenship via your parents at birth, or through being born in the country you ‘should be’ a national of. If there are gaps in the law, a child born to unknown parentage in a country which passes on nationality through the bloodline, may end up stateless from birth.
Being born abroad. Due to the fact that countries make their own nationality laws, occurrences like this can cause a clash of laws which render a child stateless. If a child is born in a country which will not grant citizenship of that country just through being born on their soil, but their country of ‘origin’ does not permit citizenship via bloodline only (e.g. you must be born on the soil of the country), then again, a child risks falling into a vacuum where it is neither a national of their country of origin, or the foreign country. As more and more people choose to live and work abroad, this is becoming an increasingly difficult obstacle.
The creation of new borders and new states. Many people can be left without a nationality if this occurs. For example in the 1990’s the dissolution of Yugoslavia rendered thousands stateless, many of whom remain stateless to this day. The ‘new’ states may enact nationality laws which conflict with the citizenship people already have, or new laws set for nationality may discriminate against certain races or ethnicities.
Nationality withdrawn. In some instances, states can revoke nationality of an individual if they have lived outside the country for too long. Additionally, states have been known to change nationality laws which discriminate against certain races or ethnicities and render them stateless.
Alongside these causes, many issues of statelessness are deep rooted in the wider issues of gender inequality. As many as 27 states have discriminatory laws which prevent women passing on citizenship to their child in certain instances. For example in Nepal, if a Nepalese woman has a child with a foreign man, she may not pass on Nepalese nationality. Yet, if a Nepalese man has a child with a foreign woman, the child is able to ascertain Nepalese citizenship. Unequal laws like this are continuing to foster generations of stateless people. Click here to watch a short video discussing the issue of women and citizenship.
What are the consequences of being a stateless person?
If you’ve never experienced statelessness or gone out of your way to read about it, you may be in for a shock when you discover how much of a hinderance it can be to the normal functioning of everyday life.
Just because we are talking human rights, doesn’t mean it has to all be negative. We can talk about the progress that’s being made too, although the progress is set within the context of some horrific abuses. This time, we’re talking about the rights and treatment of migrants working as domestic workers in Kuwait. The post focuses on Kuwait because of the recent bilateral agreement that has been signed making this progress, however the conditions described for migrants domestic workers (MDWs) can mostly be generalised across all of the the Gulf states, with only small variants in the protective laws.
So, a recent agreement signed between Kuwait and the Philippines has made some small headway towards reducing some of the abuses that were occurring where domestic workers (those who work in households) were concerned. This is amazing news and has been a long time coming! But before we delve into the provisions of the new agreement, what was the situation that prompted it?
The short answer, abuse of MDWs and more frequently than we would like to think, treatment of them in a way that could constitute modern slavery. A horrific thought back then, let alone in this day and age when we are supposed to have abolished such happenings. What’s worse, most of these women migrate out of necessity with the false promise of higher wages which they can send back to their families at home.
[W]orkers risk their lives to escape, attempting dangerous climbs from the windows or balconies of their employers’ homes. – Human Rights Watch