An elderly British journalist who could face the death penalty in Bangladesh will tomorrow have been jailed without charge for 4 months, amid worsening fears for his wellbeing.
Shafik Rehman, 81, is a well known journalist and editor in Bangladesh who has also worked as a speechwriter for the country’s main opposition party. On April 16th this year, he was arrested without a warrant in his home, by plainclothes officers who reportedly posed as a TV camera crew. Mr Rehman has been held ever since then without charge, but it is feared that if charged he may face trial for crimes which could carry the death penalty. A Supreme Court hearing later this month will consider Mr Rehman’s case.
Over two thousand leaked files revealed a disturbing string of sexual abuse, assault and self-harm incidents at Australia’s detention centre for asylum seekers on the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru. The redacted documents were published by The Guardian this week. With more than 8,000 pages, the leaks cover the period between May 2013 and October 2015. Over half of the incidents involve children.
On one occasion, a guard at the centre allegedly hit a five year old girl “so hard it lifted her off her feet and sent her crashing to the ground”. Another file detailed how a father threatened to kill both himself and his children on multiple occasions, but was initially not referred to mental health services. In another report, a female asylum seeker was told she was ‘on a list’ of single women Nauru guards were ‘waiting for’.
The leaked documents also exposed a raft of cruel and intolerable living conditions: women with incontinence refused sanitary pads; doctors’ orders for urgent medical attention routinely ignored; filthy toilets that remained so for weeks; and detainees forced to live in cockroach-infested tents.
Armenian authorities have arbitrarily detained dozens of people linked to the ongoing, largely peaceful, protests and beaten many of them, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities also have pressed unjustified criminal charges against numerous protest leaders and some participants and denied them basic rights of detainees.
“The Armenian authorities’ response to Yerevan’s largely peaceful protests has been excessive and cruel,” said Jane Buchanan, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The tense atmosphere at some protests is no justification for detaining people arbitrarily, beating them, and bringing disproportionate criminal charges against them.”
Newly released United States government records summarizing investigations of the deaths of 18 migrants in the custody of US immigration authorities support a conclusion that subpar care contributed to at least seven of the deaths, Human Rights Watch said today.
The death reviews, from mid-2012 to mid-2015, reveal substandard medical care and violations of applicable detention standards. Two independent medical experts consulted by Human Rights Watch concluded that these failures probably contributed to the deaths of 7 of the 18 detainees, while potentially putting many other detainees in danger as well. The records also show evidence of the misuse of isolation for people with mental disabilities, inadequate mental health evaluation and treatment, and broader medical care failures.
“In 2009, the Obama administration promised major immigration detention reforms, including more centralized oversight and improved health care,” said Clara Long, US researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But these death reviews show that system-wide problems remain, including a failure to prevent or fix substandard medical care that literally kills people.”
The UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says he has used a visit to Ethiopia today to secure ‘legal access’ for a British man who was kidnapped and rendered to the country in 2014, and who is now held under sentence of death.
In a statement today, following meetings with the Ethiopian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mr Hammond said that he had “raised the case” of Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, a father of three from London. Mr Hammond said he had “received a commitment from the Prime Minister that Mr Tsege will be allowed access to independent legal advice to allow him to discuss options under the Ethiopian legal system”, and that, following a consular visit from a senior Foreign Office official, he was “satisfied that he is not being ill-treated.”
Mr Hammond had faced calls to use today’s visit to request Mr Tsege’s release, including from international human rights group Reprieve, which is assisting his family in the UK.