Costa Rican Congress Declares December 10th as National Human Rights Day

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The Costa Rican Legislative Assembly definitively approved this past Wednesday the declaration of December 10th of each year as National Human Rights Day. The bill received the approval of 36 of the 41 deputies present at this afternoon’s session.

The initiative consists of two articles. The first, which creates the celebration and authorizes public institutions to carry out allusive and reflective acts. In addition, it urges private companies to join in this commemoration.

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The second adds a subsection to article three of the Fundamental Law of Education, so that it reads as follows:

Article 3-. For the fulfillment of the stated purposes, Costa Rican education will seek: […]

g) Maintain, permanently, the study of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

To become law, the proposal requires the signature of the President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado Quesada. The project was presented on March 10th, 2020 by parliamentarians Jorge Fonseca Fonseca and Paola Valladares Rosado, from the National Liberation Party (PLN); Enrique Sánchez Carballo, from the ruling Citizen Action Party (PAC); Patricia Álvarez Villegas, from the National Integration Party (PIN); as well as the independent Ivonne Acuña Cabrera.

Boost to culture

During this Wednesday’s session, Congress also approved in a second debate – with 37 votes in favor and 1 against – the bill that incorporates cultural and creative industries among the financing priorities of the Development Banking System (SBD). ).

The initiative orders the Governing Council to design “policies to provide priority treatment to projects promoted by women, the elderly, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, young entrepreneurs, development associations, cooperatives, SME consortia in accordance with Law 9576 for the Promotion of the Competitiveness of SMEs through the Development of Consortiums, of June 22, 2018, as well as projects that comply with the parameters of this law, promoted in areas of relatively less development, defined by the development index social calculated by the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy (Mideplán) “.

Cleaner production

Likewise, it incorporates among the priorities those enterprises that promote the concept of “cleaner production” and those that seek to produce or distribute creative or cultural goods and services.

These financing and non-financial support policies will make it possible for these groups to access credits, endorsements, guarantees, conditions and non-financial and business development services.

The proponent of the text and head of the government fraction, Laura Guido Pérez, highlighted that “with this, what we seek is to throw a bridge towards the formalization and access to credit for the creative and cultural industries, for cultural and cultural enterprises. for expressions that have been nurtured by cultural manifestations as a way of life and value creation.

Bangladesh: Officials Linked to Hundreds of ‘Disappearances’

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(Washington, DC) – The Bangladesh government has repeatedly denied involvement in hundreds of enforced disappearances of activists, critics, and opposition members, and has taken no steps to investigate them, Human Rights Watch, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and the Asian Human Rights Commission said on August 30, the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Concerned foreign governments should impose targeted sanctions against top security force commanders implicated in enforced disappearances and other grave abuses.

An August 2021 report by Human Rights Watch documented widespread enforced disappearances by Bangladesh security forces under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League-led government from 2009 to 2020. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen rejected the findings, telling the media that the allegations were “fabricated.” The Bangladesh government has long denied compelling evidence of government involvement in disappearances, which is particularly damaging and painful to victims’ families.

“The Bangladesh government has demonstrated absolutely no interest in investigating the role of its security forces in hundreds of enforced disappearances,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Governments should act to ensure that the Bangladesh security force officials responsible face sanctions on their international travel, overseas assets, and use of international financial services.”

Enforced disappearances are defined under international law as the arrest or detention of a person by state officials or their agents followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty, or to reveal the person’s fate or whereabouts. Enforced disappearances violate a range of fundamental human rights, including prohibitions against arbitrary detention, torture, and extrajudicial execution.

More enforced disappearances in Bangladesh have been linked to the notoriously abusive Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) than to any other security force unit in the country, according to Bangladeshi human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch has described RAB as a “death squad” and repeatedly called for it to be disbanded.

The government leadership’s denials have trickled down through the ranks, the groups said. Many families whose loved ones were forcibly disappeared said that when they tried to register a police report, the police refused to accept any complaint that included allegations against law enforcement, and that some families faced threats and harassment.

The family of Mohammad Rezoun Hossain, an activist with Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami Islamist political party, said that after police detained Hossain on August 4, 2016, and then denied holding him, they tried to file a complaint at the local police station. However, the officer in charge told them, “Do not search for Rezoun or we will slaughter you all.” Hossain remains forcibly disappeared. “If my son is guilty, then the police can produce him in court,” said his mother, Selina Begum. “Why did the police pick him up and disappear him?”

The United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Canada, Australia, and other countries have laws authorizing governments to impose sanctions on human rights abusers and prohibit visas or entry, seize assets, and block access to banking and other financial services.

On August 24, the Guernica 37 Chambers law offices made a formal submission to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office recommending sanctions for 15 current and former senior officers within the Rapid Action Battalion for alleged involvement in human rights abuses and corrupt practices under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020.

In October 2020, US senators published a bipartisan letter calling for individual sanctions against top RAB officials for extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, and torture under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and section 7031(c) of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020.

Imposing sanctions on high-level officials implicated in enforced disappearances could prompt the resolution of cases, spur accountability, and deter future abuses, the groups said.

Bangladesh is the top contributor of peacekeeping troops in the world. UN Secretary-General António Guterres should ban Rapid Action Battalion officers from participating in UN peacekeeping missions, the groups said. The US Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs should ensure that any support under the Global Peace Operations Initiative is not used to train members of RAB for deployment in UN peacekeeping operations.

“Bangladesh security forces implicated in grave violations should not be deployed to United Nations peacekeeping missions abroad,” said Angelita Baeyens, vice president of international advocacy and litigation at RFK Human Rights. “Secretary-General Guterres should ramp up screening of those deployed by the UN to ensure its human rights screening policy is being effectively applied for those put forward by Bangladesh.”

On August 31, Human Rights Watch will brief the US congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on measures that the US government should take to press Bangladesh to end enforced disappearances and other grave abuses by its security forces. Panelists will include Shahidul Alam, a prominent Bangladeshi activist and photojournalist; Sanjida Islam, the sister of disappeared opposition activist Sajedul Islam Sumon; and representatives from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the Asian Human Rights Commission.

“Many families of victims of enforced disappearances in Bangladesh feel helpless in the face Bangladesh authorities’ repeated denials, and the world should act and use the tools at their disposal to spur accountability and stop these abuses from continuing,” said Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman, liaison officer at the Asian Human Rights Commission. “The UN should apply increased scrutiny to its relationship with Bangladesh security forces, and should not allow leaders implicated in grave violations the honor of serving under the UN flag.”

West Virginia leaders speak on equality during Civil Rights Day ceremony

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dr. R. Charles Byers, Provost Emeritus and Vice President Emeritus for Academic Affairs of West Virginia State University says there are two key tenants to understanding the world and improving it: knowing thyself and knowing that knowledge is power.

Byers, also a historian of the Institute HBCU, was the keynote speaker during a virtual ceremony for West Virginia Civil Rights Day hosted by the West Virginia Human Rights Commission (HRC) on Thursday.

Byers said it’s important to remember that everyone is equal and treat others the way you would like to be treated.

“Learn to start observing people and interacting with people in a positive manner. Start looking at people for who they are, not for their religion, the color of skin, where they are from, or socioeconomic status,” Byers said.

“I always heard you reap what you sow, what goes around comes around. Those are very key tenants you take into consideration as you communicate with people.”

Byers said the state and country are showing progress but there is still a long way to go to treat everyone equally. Earlier this year, Governor Jim Justice declared Juneteenth an official West Virginia state holiday. June 19 marks the emancipation of enslaved people in the US, which has also became a federal holiday.

Byers said he would like to see more people stand up to political leaders that try to divide.

“Too many of us are not standing up for what is right. We are allowing too many who are thinking wrong, perpetuating wrong, to take the lead,” he said.

Other featured speakers included Justice, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch, HRC Executive Director Tia L. Welch, and U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).

“Recognizing the journey toward civil rights includes honoring successes and highlighting work yet to be done,” said Welch in a release. “The West Virginia Human Rights Commissions applauds all West Virginians who work toward the continued assurance of civil rights both within and beyond our state’s borders.”

The event also may be viewed at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday on WV Public Broadcasting’s West Virginia Channel. Following these presentations, the event may be viewed at any time on the HRC Facebook page.