Posts Tagged ‘Violence Against Women’

U.S. report offers damning picture of human rights abuses in Afghanistan

March 14, 2010

Conditions are horrific, torture is common and police frequently rape female detainees, the U.S. State Department finds

Paul Koring, The Globe and Mail, arch 12, 2010

Afghan prison conditions are horrific, torture is common and police frequently rape female detainees, the U.S. State Department finds in its annual survey of human rights.

The damning report paints a grim picture of scant respect for human rights by the embattled regime headed by President Hamid Karzai. While Taliban treatment of civilians is even worse, the report’s assessment of vile prison conditions and routine abuse and torture by Afghan police and security raises new questions about whether Canada and other nations are still transferring prisoners to known torturers. Doing so is a war crime under international law.

“Torture was commonplace among the majority of law enforcement institutions, especially the police,” the U.S. report found, citing the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, the group used by Ottawa to help monitor whether detainees transferred by Canadian troops are abused or tortured.

Canadian diplomats compile a similar annual report on selected countries – including Afghanistan – but it isn’t made public. Government censors blacked out all references to torture, abuse and extrajudicial killings by Afghan police and prison guards in the last available report obtained under Access to Information.

Yesterday’s U.S. report makes no similar attempt to shield allies from human rights scrutiny, even in places where U.S. troops are deployed.

Michael Posner, the U.S. undersecretary of state for human rights and democracy whose group prepared the mammoth report – generally considered the most authoritative annual assessment of conditions in more than 190 countries – said the issue of foreign troops being ordered by their governments to hand detainees to Afghan security forces was vexed.

“How can United States and NATO countries ensure or guarantee safe treatment or fair process when those transfers occur. … Those are issues very much on our minds,” Mr. Posner said.

The U.S. runs a prison facility at Bagram where more than 600 battlefield detainees are held. Some of them have been there for six years. But Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and other NATO countries with troops fighting in southern Afghanistan turn prisoners over to Afghan police and the Afghan internal security service (National Directorate of Security), usually within 96 hours. For years, no follow-up inspections were made to ensure transferred prisoners weren’t tortured or killed, but after publication of harrowing accounts of abuse, Ottawa added sporadic inspections.

Most Canadian detainees are turned over to the feared NDS. The U.S. report said it was impossible to determine how many prisons the NDS operates, or how many prisoners they contain. The report, which covers 2009, also noted that the Afghan government was making efforts to improve conditions in prisons.

Other countries where human rights abuses are identified include Iran and China.

Canada generally got good marks but the Harper government’s long-running effort to keep a Canadian citizen from returning home was cited. “In July the government complied with an order of the Federal Court of Canada and facilitated the return to Canada of Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian-Sudanese dual national, after the Court determined that Canadian officials had been complicit in his detention in Sudan in 2003,” the report said.



Excerpts from the Afghanistan sections of the U.S. government’s latest human rights report:

  • Afghan police and security “tortured and abused detainees. Torture and abuse methods included, but were not limited to, beating by stick, scorching bar, or iron bar; flogging by cable; battering by rod; electric shock; deprivation of sleep, water, and food; abusive language; sexual humiliation; and rape.”
  • Afghan “police frequently raped female detainees and prisoners.”
  • “Harems of young boys were cloistered for ‘bacha baazi’ (boy-play) for sexual and social entertainment …”
  • “Child abuse was endemic throughout the country, based on cultural beliefs about child-rearing, and included general neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, and confined forced labor to pay off family debts.”
  • “Human rights problems included extrajudicial killings, torture, poor prison conditions, official impunity, prolonged pretrial detention, restrictions on freedom of the press, restrictions on freedom of religion, violence and societal discrimination against women, restrictions on religious conversions, abuses against minorities, sexual abuse of children, trafficking in persons, abuse of worker rights, the use of child soldiers in armed conflict, and child labor.”

Tajikistan women beaten, abused and raped in the family

November 24, 2009

Amnesty International USA, 24 November 2009

The authorities in Tajikistan must properly prosecute violence against women as a criminal offence, Amnesty International said in a report published on Tuesday.

Violence is not just a family affair: Women face abuse in Tajikistan, documents the physical, psychological and sexual abuse women face in the family and urges the authorities to address it as the crime it is and not to dismiss it as a “private family matter”.

Continues >>


    WOMEN-PAKISTAN: Domestic Violence Bill Draws Mixed Reactions

    September 8, 2009

    By Zofeen Ebrahim, Inter Press Service News

    KARACHI, Sep 7 (IPS) – A historic bill seeking to punish domestic abuse still raises doubts about its ability to meet the goal it sets out to do: end violence against women.

    That is assuming the bill, which was approved by the National Assembly on Aug. 4, will be passed by the Senate to make it a law.

    “Just as the proceedings began before the bill was put to a vote, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani got up to say his government supported the bill as it fell under their party manifesto’s purview,” said Yasmeen Rehman, a member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, who sponsored the bill. “I was elated.”

    Civil society groups advocating protection of women against all forms of violence dubbed the passage a “historic move”.

    Continues >>

    RIGHTS: Domestic Workers Often Prisoners in a Gilded Cage

    November 25, 2008

    By Zainab Mineeia | Inter Press Service

    WASHINGTON, Nov 24 (IPS) – On the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a New York-based human rights watchdog group called on the governments of the world to protect domestic workers.

    In its statement Monday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said migrant and domestic workers continue to face abuse, particularly in Middle Eastern and Asian countries, because authorities have lagged in adopting the measures needed to protect them.

    Only small numbers of domestic workers have access to the justice system in the countries they work in. Those who can gain access and provide physical evidence of rape or abuse rarely get justice, HRW said.

    “There are countless cases of employers threatening, humiliating, beating, raping, and sometimes killing domestic workers,” said Nisha Varia, deputy director of the women’s rights division of HRW. “Governments need to punish abusive employers through the justice system, and prevent violence by reforming labour and immigration policies that leave these workers at their employers’ mercy.”

    A large number of female domestic workers are from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Nepal, and most work in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and other countries throughout the Middle East. These countries exclude their domestic workers from the legal shelter of labour laws, leaving them little recourse against exploitative work conditions.

    The workers are also at more risk of abuse because of the restrictive immigration-sponsorship policies that link their visas to their employers. The employer can control the worker’s immigration status and the ability to switch jobs, or the worker’s ability to return home. Many employers take advantage of the authority that they have to imprison workers in the house, withhold pay, or mistreat them in a variety of ways.

    Officials in these countries receive thousands of complaints from domestic workers each year. Most involve unpaid wages, food deprivation, long working hours and lack of rest. A significant number also allege verbal, physical, and sexual abuse.

    Many of these cases are never officially reported due to domestic workers’ confinement in private homes, lack of information about their rights, and employers’ ability to deport them before they can seek help.

    A small number of law enforcement authorities have started to prosecute and punish abusive employers, albeit by varying degrees. In Singapore this year, many employers were convicted of beating domestic workers, receiving sentences ranging from three weeks to 16 years in prison.

    In Malaysia this month, a man was sentenced to 32 years in prison for raping a domestic worker. His wife received six years for abetting the crime.

    However, many criminal justice systems continue to expose abused domestic workers to further victimisation and give them no — or severely delayed — redress, said HRW.

    In May, a Riyadh court dropped charges against a Saudi employer who abused Nour Miyati, an Indonesian domestic worker, ignoring both the employer’s confession and compelling physical evidence.

    Nour Miyati suffered daily beatings and was abused so badly that her toes and fingers were amputated after developing gangrene. During the three years of legal proceedings, she remained stuck in an overcrowded embassy shelter unable to work or return to her family in Indonesia. At one point, she also was sentenced 79 lashes for changing her testimony, though the sentence was later reversed. On Thursday, a Malaysian judge is to announce the verdict in the four-year case against Yim Pek Ha, the employer of Indonesian domestic worker Nirmala Bonat. In 2004, images of Bonat’s badly burned and injured body shocked Malaysians. Bonat also had to stay in an overcrowded embassy shelter for years without being allowed to work and had to defend herself from charges of inflicting the abuse herself. “2008 marked a year of missed opportunities,” Varia said. “While most governments have started to think about some level of reform, many of these discussions have stalled. Providing comprehensive support services to victims of violence, prosecuting abusers, and providing civil remedies are reforms that just can’t wait.” HRW recommends that governments abolish or reform immigration-sponsorship policies so that domestic workers’ visas are no longer tied to their employer; develop protocols and train law enforcement officials on how to respond to domestic workers’ complaints appropriately, and how to investigate and collect evidence in such cases; and prosecute perpetrators of psychological, physical, and sexual violence. The statement was released ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on Tuesday, which was decreed by a U.N. General Assembly resolution in 1999.

    Nov. 25 is the 48th anniversary of the brutal rapes and murders of the three Maribal sisters in the Dominican Republic by order of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. The date has been marked by women’s activists since 1981 as a day against violence.

    %d bloggers like this: