28 August 2017 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy


U.N.'s Guterres sees no pressure from Yemen coalition on child rights report
By Reuters, 27 Aug 2017

 The United Nations faces “no pressure” from a Saudi-led coalition over a draft U.N. report on child deaths in Yemen, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday, amid rising concern over civilian casualties from the alliance’s air raids. Speaking to Reuters on a visit to Kuwait, Guterres added that in any case no pressure could sway his eventual decision whether or not to return the Saudi-led coalition to a child rights blacklist annexed to the report.

Read More

Morocco’s Stability Is Roiled by Monthslong Protests Over Fishmonger’s Death
By The New York Times, 26 Aug 2017

The house, down a dusty dirt track in a small village near the city of Al Hoceima in northern Morocco, looked dreary outside, with its unpainted facade, but inside the mood was cheery. Friends and family were celebrating the return of a young singer and human rights activist who had just been released from jail. King Mohammed VI pardoned the young woman, Salima Ziani, 23, late last month after his annual speech commemorating his ascension to the throne, which is usually followed by mass pardons. She had been jailed for two months for her role in leading the protests that have been shaking the Rif since the gruesome death of a fishmonger in October. What began as a spontaneous movement calling for a serious inquiry into the tragedy has turned into one of the longest protest movements in the region since the Arab Spring.

Read More

Justice after ISIS: time for judicial triage
By OpenDemocracy , 25 Aug 2017

The Raqqa Civilian Council building was full of people with complaints when I visited in July. The council, based in the Syrian town of `Ayn Issa, was set up in April to govern the areas in Raqqa province that US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are retaking from ISIS. A local sheikh had come to seek the release of a relative who the SDF had detained on suspicion of being an ISIS member. Another local man was upset that the SDF had not arrested his neighbor, who he says had joined ISIS and had used his association with them to confiscate some of the local man’s property. The scene that unfolded before me in rural Syria was not just about predictable local complaints. It illustrated a difficult policy question that runs all the way from the battlefields of Iraq and Syria through key international capitals: what should justice look like after ISIS? In other words, who should be prosecuted, by whom, and for what?

Read More

Qatar: New Law Gives Domestic Workers Labor Rights
By Human Rights Watch , 24 Aug 2017

Qatar’s adoption of a new law on domestic workers provides labor rights for domestic workers for the first time, Human Rights Watch said today. Qatari authorities should enact strong enforcement policies and close loopholes that place domestic workers at risk of exploitation. On August 22, 2017, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, ratified Law No.15 on service workers in the home (“Domestic Workers Law”). The cabinet adopted the law in February . The law guarantees workers a maximum 10-hour workday, a weekly rest day, three weeks of annual leave, and an end-of-service payment of at least three weeks per year. The law does not, however, set out enforcement mechanisms.

Read More

Palestine: Dangerous escalation in attacks on freedom of expression
By Amnesty International , 23 Aug 2017

The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and their rivals, the de-facto Hamas administration in Gaza, have both tightened the noose on freedom of expression in recent months, launching a repressive clampdown on dissent that has seen journalists from opposition media outlets interrogated and detained in a bid to exert pressure on their political opponents, said Amnesty International. In the West Bank, the Palestinian authorities have arrested six journalists in August so far, shut down 29 websites and introduced a controversial Electronic Crimes Law imposing tight controls on media freedom and banning online expression and dissent. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas security forces have arrested at least two journalists since June and hampered others from freely carrying out their work. At least 12 Palestinians, including activists, were also detained by Hamas for critical comments posted on Facebook.

Read More