No Longer Illegal, Gays Are Still a Target in Chile

Although homosexuality was legalized in 1998, gays in Chile still suffer public harassment and, in one case, beatings and sexual assault — all by the country’s own police force. Activists there have called for mandatory human rights training for police officers, or Carabineros, but the Santiago Times reports that officals have not welcomed the idea. Source:
“Police abuse of gays continues in Chile”
Santiago Times, February 7, 2007

Women: Rights & Welfare

Progress in Yemen, Zimbabwe
A Western-educated Yemeni woman said she would break a law against women in politics by forming a party dedicated to gender equality. reports that Sumaya Ali Raja, who was invited to deliver her message to a traditionally all-male council, got a mixed reception from conservatives, but was welcomed by the Socialist Party and others. Legislators in Zimbabwe finally passed a bill protecting women from domestic abuse … ten years after it was introduced. Activists say that one in four women there are victims of abuse, and linked domestic violence with high rates of murder and HIV infection.

For Gypsies, Eugenics is a Modern Problem / Czech Practice Dates to Soviet Era

By Mindy Kay Bricker
PRAGUE ( — Gypsy women who say they were sterilized against their will by Czech doctors were heartened last December when a government investigator released a study that largely vindicated their claims.
Six months later, however, advocates for Gypsies — known more formally as Roma — say the practice is continuing, and are dismayed by what they consider only token steps by Czech officials to stop it. “There’s been basically dead silence at the level of elites,” said Claude Cahn, program director of the European Roma Rights Center, an advocacy group based in Budapest. Officials at the Health Ministry acknowledge the problem, but have not taken responsibility. “[Sterilization] was by no means a national policy, but errors [were] committed by individual medical facilities,” said Jaroslav Strof, the Health Ministry’s director of healthcare and pharmacy, in an e-mailed statement. Yet the Czech government’s independent ombudsman, Otakar Motejl, released a detailed report last year charging that “potentially problematic” sterilizations of Roma women have been public knowledge for more than 15 years.

Update — United Nations Reform

By Martin Leatherman & staff
The United Nations faces louder calls for reform as the Iraqi oil for food scandal unfolds, and is under new pressure after the failure of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty summit and the nomination of John Bolton as America’s U.N. ambassador. The $64 billion “oil for food” program was created by the U.N. after the first Gulf War to supply war-torn Iraq with food and medicine in exchange for oil. But revelations of illegal profiteering from the program have implicated a wide range of politicians and business leaders from around the world. The first casualty is at the U.N. itself. Joseph Stephanides, head of the U.N. Security Council affairs division, was dismissed for “serious misconduct” in urging that a British company win an Iraqi inspection contract, according to Agence France Presse.

Focus: Uganda — ‘A War Against Children’

Jodi Wynn,
Since the Lord’s Resistance Army was formed in 1987, approximately 20,000 children in Acholiland, a region in northern Uganda, have been abducted and 1.6 million people displaced. “I feel frightened, I feel very afraid, I have returned only once to my real home,” Charles Ojok, who was abducted at age 14 on his way to school, told the BBC. Jan Egeland, a Humanitarian Affairs official for the United Nations, visited Northern Uganda in 2003 and was “shocked” by what he found. “This is above all a war against children. They are abducted, abused and violated,” he said in a press release.

Pinochet: new charges follow abuse report

A report issued earlier this month in Chile found that 35,000 people were abused by the Pinochet regime. The document also says the junta operated “dozens” of secret facilities, engaged in extreme and varied torture, and systematically targeted civilians. Although the report, which has not yet been made public, was intended as a “historical” document rather than a tool for prosecution, recent developments indicate new action against members of the former junta:
–Pinochet himself was brought up on new charges after losing a battle over amnesty. His former spy chief also faces new prosecution. –Chile has also announced plans to build a new prison that will be almost exclusively dedicated to holding Pinochet-era human-rights abusers.

Lawsuits Target Energy Giants: A Life in Aceh

By Jennifer Huang | World Power I: Business & Law

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The oldest son of nine siblings, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah loved to watch courtroom dramas on state-run television, and in 1991 graduated from law school at Amir Hamzah University in the North Sumatran city of Medan. “He said, ‘Indonesian law is like a spiderweb. It just catches the small animals, but never tries to get a big animal.’ That’s why he really wanted to be a lawyer,” recalled his sister. Friends describe Hamzah as a man who smiled often, took pride in his recipe for fried rice, and worked tirelessly as an attorney for the Legal Aid Institute in Medan.