WEEKLY NEWSLETTER| LEGIT BY INTERNATIONALISM
Updated: Jul 30
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Chief Managing Editor,
Legit by Internationalism
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The Undefined Nature of Hong Kong’s National Security Law and Threat to Human Rights. 18th July, 2020, Hong Kong, (Security Law).
Unanimously, on 30th June, 2020, China’s Legislature introduced a new security law for Hong Kong extending over a diverse spectrum, making it possible for the government to limit one’s freedom of speech and expression and punishing the protesters for reducing the city’s autonomy. The law criminalizes the act of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with external forces. These offences are defined broadly by the law and could amount to penalties such as life imprisonment. The day after the law was passed, the authorities started enforcing the law stringently on protests carried on peacefully in a legitimate manner. The law empowers Chinese mainland security forces with the right to investigate and give judgment in national security cases which are of serious nature. It is also made clear that some trials will be held behind closed doors.
The law vests powers in hands of mainland authorities to manage schools, social organizations, media and the internet in Hong Kong by removing online content which is in opposition and similarly can obtain any users data without a judicial warrant. Hong Kong city is having common-law jurisdiction unlike in other parts of China where they have a civil legal system, but this law seems to scrape away the judicial independence of the city. The vagueness of law can be determined on the basis of its applicability which says anyone on this earth, being a national or foreign national, if found violating the law can be arrested, prosecuted or even deported if found in Chinese jurisdiction. For the enforcement purpose of the law, a new security commission has to be formed by Hong Kong. In addition to this, Beijing will have the only power to interpret the laws. If any person is found as a suspect for violation of national security law, then they will be under surveillance. The regulations in terms of any foreign organizations (NGO’s) and media agencies will be very strictly implemented.
As one of the reporting of BBC's Grace Tsoi and Lam Cho Wai states that, the critics say the introduction of the law this way amounts to a breach of the "one country, two systems" principle, which is so important to Hong Kong - but clearly it is technically possible to do this. According to the provisions of security law, anything can amount to a threat to national security. This has created a sense of fear among the people of Hong Kong. Every government’s duty is to protect the rights of its citizens while protecting national security, but this doesn’t constitute for the government to make use of “national security issues” to upheaval the political opposition risking human rights.
Zimbabwe- Government Critics & Series of Abduction.
20th July, 2020, Zimbabwe, (Detention).
In the most recent series of government critics and abduction, on 20th July, 2020, Hopewell Chin'ono, a journalist and Jacob Ngarivhume, an activist were arrested by the Zimbabwe authorities. Hopewell Chin’ono has been revealing about the corrupt practices of Zimbabwe authorities, including in the appropriation of COVID-19 medical supplies whereas Jacob is a political activist who called for a protest in Zimbabwe on 31st July against corruption according to Amnesty International. From this action of the authorities in Zimbabwe, one can draw the inference that the government is trying to quiet the critics. The arrest of Chino’ono and Jacob by the government is a warning signal for all the journalists, tattlers and activists who try to draw the attention of public interest in Zimbabwe. According to the report of CNN, in a statement given by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an end to the "pattern of intimidation" seen in Zimbabwe, warning that authorities may be using the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to "clamp down" on freedom of expression.
The UN High Commission also directed the Zimbabwe authorities to ratify its Human Rights obligations because simply practicing peaceful protest in a legitimate manner is the fundamental right provided by Human Rights and it doesn’t amount to detention. The government instead of protecting the rights of activists and journalists, recognized as freedom of speech and expression are misusing their powers provided by the justice mechanism. The Human Rights defenders are showing their concern, that if this will continue in Zimbabwe, soon the security forces will start arresting other activists too who are the suspects for the nationwide protest on 31st July. They also made statements against the detention of the journalist and activist, to release them as early as possible.
Forced Crop Eradication for Illicit Use- An Act Violating Human Rights in Colombia.
22nd July, 2020, International Human Rights, America (Right to Health).
The Campesino farming communities depend on coca for their livelihoods as the coca cultivation has been the support system of the agriculture economy of the state. This is mostly cultivated by the people living in the mountainous and jungle regions of the state and thus, are the most neglected community in Colombia. But without consulting the local communities, the Ministry of Defense, Colombia decided to carry forward the decision of ground spraying for eradication of illicit coca plantation in some parts of the state, taking the advantage of COVID-19. Erika Guevara-Rosas, America’s director at Amnesty International said- Operations to forcibly eradicate coca crops in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic are a death sentence for rural communities. The forced eradication for illicit use could result in Human Rights Violation. The cultivation of Coca crops is done along the legal crops. The operation of ground spraying could also destroy plenty of other crops too which are legal. In addition to this, during the pandemic, where people don’t have many sources of income for their livelihood due to lockdown, the government’s decision of forcible eradication of such crops can hamper the life of people living in the rural areas of the state. As the population in these regions are having limited access to health services, so what will happen if they get struck down by the novel virus?
Some organizations and commissions, actively working in the locality where the eradication is carried out have reported that the police and army personnel were deployed in the regions in large numbers so that the operation can take place. During this, the health and hygiene protocols were neglected by the authorities, especially during COVID-19 times. The action of the government has imposed a serious threat to the rural community by exposing them to the deadly corona-virus and affecting their livelihood along with generating questions on Humanitarian terms. The government of Colombia should immediately take certain steps in order to safeguard the rights of the rural community people and immediately stop the operation because these are the people who are at a very disadvantageous stage where they are lacking government support.
Chile: Hunger Strike of Mapuche persists
22nd July, 2020, Chile,(Right to Life and Health).
The issue of Mapuche Hunger Strike in Southern Chile demands an end to unjust detention of prisoners and urges the government to comply with Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation. The condition of 27 detained Mapuche people on hunger strike in Temuco, Angol and Lebu needs attention to preserve their health and well-being. One of them is Machi Celestino Cordova who has been serving 18 years sentence for his involvement in the Luchsinger-Mackay case. He started a hunger strike on May 4 and now has been on dry strike that is he won't consume any liquids. Later, the strike was joined by other Mapuche prisoners making it severe.
As a matter of concern and human right, Amnesty International intended through an open letter to the Chilean president to take cognizance of the matter, thereby guaranteeing their rights to life and health. Further, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International said, "it is the responsibility of Chile to safeguard the rights of Indigenous people with regard to life and health by allowing Mapuche to practice and preserve their culture even if imprisoned. She also urged the authorities to evaluate the prison conditions so as not to put those detained at risk from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic." However, the government's follow-up towards Mapuche in Chile remains slow.
Taking forward new Anti-Discrimination Bill, a ray of hope to LGBTQ+ people
17th July, 2020, South Korea, (Discrimination)
The proposed Anti-Discrimination Bill by the Justice Party on June 29,2020, seeks to outlaw discrimination in South Korea, including against LGBTQ+ people. Further, on 8 July, 2020 the ruling Democratic party stipulated to submit a similar bill on the same issue and then the final version would be passed by a majority in the National Assembly. Acknowledging the same, Arnold Fang, East Asia's Researcher of Amnesty International said that passing such legislation to protect each and everyone from discrimination, including LGBTQ+ people, will make South Korea a pioneer in Asia and as a result, it would give hope and safety to many.
In South Korea, it is compulsory to undergo military service where same-sex activity is prohibited and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people continues. During this pandemic, some States have adopted policies and laws to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. For instance, Taiwan legalised same-sex marriage in 2019 while Japan is also focusing on this issue. As per International law and standards, discrimination on the basis of gender identity is prohibited to ensure and secure equal rights for all. Lastly, to comply with the international standards, President Moon Jae-in should uphold discussion on the Bill and implement legislation to eliminate discrimination completely.
UNICEF stands as a pillar to support millions of children affected by devastating floods in India 24th July, 2020, Mumbai, (Disaster).
Amidst this pandemic with rise in COVID-19 cases, India is grappling with widespread devastating floods. It includes over 6 million people across Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, out of which an estimated 2.4 million are children. UNICEF in a statement said, "though flooding during this period of the year is common, but this widespread scale of floods in mid-July is unusual." To get by, UNICEF is working with the government calling for immediate support, resources and innovative programmes for the affected children and families. Due to lakhs of deaths especially in Assam, UNICEF is assisting the Assam government to implement COVID-19 adapted Relief Camp Management Guidelines and Child-Friendly Spaces in select districts along with maternal and child health service in this period of a pandemic.
Jean Gough, UNICEF's Regional Director for South Asia remarked that the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic is being compounded by climate change and extreme weather events. The COVID-19 containment zones and precautionary measures with a rising number of cases complicates the situation even more. Children and families of flood-affected areas are at risk. These heavy rains, floods and landslides have not only affected India but also Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. It is a prime issue affecting millions of children in South Asia, there is an urgent need to undertake measures to protect and provide children with clean water, food supplies and maintain hygiene to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Indian Army gets 'Bharat' drones for accurate surveillance along China border
New Delhi, 22nd July, 2020, (Drones for Surveillance)
Amid the ongoing boundary dispute between India and China, DRDO has provided its indigenously-developed drone named Bharat to the Indian Army for carrying out accurate surveillance in high altitude areas and mountainous terrain along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh."The Indian Army requires drones for accurate surveillance in the ongoing dispute in the Eastern Ladakh area. For this requirement, the DRDO has provided the Bharat drones to it," defense sources told ANI here. The Bharat drones have been developed by a Chandigarh-based laboratory of the Defense Research and Development Organisation. The Bharat series of the drones can be listed among "World's most agile and lightest Surveillance drone. Indigenously developed by the DRDO."
DRDO sources said the "small yet powerful drone works autonomously at any location with great accuracy. The unibody biomimetic design with advance release technology is a lethal combination for surveillance missions". The drone is equipped with artificial intelligence to detect friends and foes and can take action accordingly. The drone has been made capable of survival in extreme cold weather temperatures and is being developed further for harsher weather.
The drone provides real-time video transmission during the complete missions and with very advanced night vision capabilities, it can detect humans hidden in deep forests. It is gaining a lot of popularity because it can operate in swarm operations, sources said. The drone has been built in a way that makes it impossible to be detected by Radar.
Supreme Court issues notice to Prashant Bhushan over his contemptuous tweets
24th July, 2020, New Delhi, (National - Legal).
The Supreme Court had initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against noted civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan, remarking his tweets to be derogatory and portraying a negative image of the Supreme Court in his tweets on its ‘role’ in the ‘last six years’ and his comments on a photograph of Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde on a motorbike undermines the dignity of the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) in the public eye.
The SC took the cognizance into the case when tweets were made on 27 & 29 June respectively by twitter handle @pbhushan1 as – ‘When historians in the future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs’, followed by another tweet after 2 days commenting on a photograph of CJI - ‘CJI rides a 50 Lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice!’
Following this, the Court stated, "We are, prima facie, of the view that the statements made on Twitter by Prashant Bhushan have brought the administration of justice in disrepute and are capable of undermining the dignity and authority of the institution of the Supreme Court in general and the office of the Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of the public at large."
The court has asked the Attorney General of India K.K Venugopal to assist it in the case. A Bench, containing Justices Arun Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari, asked Bhushan and twitter to record their answer by August 5 as twitter also didn’t disable the tweets on its own even after the contempt case was filed.
Ram Temple in Ayodhya to get bigger, taller, more Magnificient
New Delhi 23rd July, 2020, Religious - (Ayodhya).
After the judgement was passed on the disputed land of Ayodhya on 9 November 2019, a trust (Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra) was set up for the building of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya. So initiating the construction of the temple, the foundation stone is to be laid on 5 August by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at ‘Bhoomi-pujan’ event in Ayodhya. And following the social distancing norms, only 50 persons will be allowed to attend the event.
Ahead of the grand groundbreaking ceremony which is to be held on 5 August, three-day-long Vedic rituals will be held which will revolve around the installation of a 40 kg silver brick as the foundation stone. The Vedic rituals will begin on 3 August with a ‘Gauri Ganesh’ Puja, followed by ‘Ramchara’ on 4 August i.e reciting ‘Ram Naam’ without a break.
The proposed design of Ram Mandir shows that it will be now bigger in size. The earlier design was prepared in 1988 by the chief architect of the temple C. Sompura. But as per the revised design given by Nikhil Sompura son of C. Sompura, the height of the temple has been increased from ‘141-feet’ to ‘161-feet’ with an addition of two mandaps into the design.
The team of Larsen & Turbo, along with machinery and material have reached the spot to start the foundation work right away and according to the architect, the completion of the work will take 3 to 3.5 years. According to the trust sources, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat, Maharashtra Chief minister Udhav Thackery and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar are also in the list of invitees. The entire ceremony will be telecasted live for the devotees.
Vikas Dubey’s encounter: Former Supreme Court judge to head inquiry panel
25th July, 2020, New Delhi, Legal.
Gangster Vikas Dubey met his end on 10 July in a typical “encounter”, as he was trying to escape after the car accident which took place 22 km ahead of the Kanpur village. He was arrested from Ujjain district of Madhya Pradesh for the 3 July bloodbath wherein he along with his gang members open fire on 8 policemen including DSP Devendra Mishra at Bikru village in Chaubeypur area of Kanpur, causing their death.
A probe has been initiated in the matter and SC has directed the inquiry commission to conclude the investigation within 2 months. SC has also approved Uttar Pradesh government’s request for appointing former apex court judge Justice (retd) B.S Chauhan as chairman of the three-member enquiry commission on the killing of 8 policemen and the subsequent encounter killings of gangster Vikas Dubey and five of his alleged associates. The other two members of the inquiry commission would be former HC judge Justice (retd) Shashi Kant Agarwal and retired DGP K.L Gupta, directed the bench of the SC headed by Chief Justice S.A Bobde. The order of SC directing the inquiry commission also mentioned that Secretarial Services will be provided to the commission by Central government.
Following the encounter, Sarla Dubey mother of gangster Vikas Dubey has appealed to her younger son, Deep Prakash Dubey, to surrender to the police as he was an accomplice in the killing of 8 policemen and also she stated in her message to his younger son that if he will not surrender to the police, he would probably meet the same fate as his elder brother did.