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US Supreme Court Reportedly Set to Repeal Constitutional Right to Abortion

NEW YORK — A majority opinion from the US Supreme Court that was leaked to the press shows a vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the core legal precedent establishing the right to abortion in the United States.

The court has not yet issued its official ruling and abortion remains legal in the United States.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“If this leaked opinion is legitimate, it offers a preview of the catastrophic day reproductive rights activists have feared for decades. In just a few short weeks, this court is set to seize a human right from millions in America. This places the United States in violation of its human rights obligations and far out of step with global trends towards liberalizing abortion access.

“Let’s be clear: safe abortion is a fundamental human right and must be accessible to all pregnant people. Everyone from international human rights bodies to healthcare experts agree. And yet, abortion has been singled out, stigmatized, and targeted, including as a test run for broader assaults on human rights.

“The court’s ruling is still weeks away, but the time to act is now. President Biden and Congress must take all steps within their power to protect abortion access and expeditiously act to firmly enshrine this human right into law.”

United States to Designate Crimes Against Rohingya as Genocide

NEW YORK — Reports surfaced today that the United States will formally determine that atrocities committed against the Rohingya minority by Myanmar’s military in northern Rakhine State amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. The Biden administration will officially announce the designation tomorrow.

Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“This is a welcome, yet long overdue step from the Biden administration. Recognizing the crimes against Rohingya for what they are — a genocide — is necessary if the world hopes to marshal a swift and appropriate response. So it’s absolutely crucial that this designation is followed by a renewed campaign of action from the United States to hold the military accountable. The same military who committed genocide against the Rohingya are those who are illegally in power as a result of a military coup — the cycle of impunity must be broken.

“Powerful measures the US could take include pushing the UN Security Council to refer the crisis to the International Criminal Court, taking the lead in demanding a global arms embargo, and securing humanitarian access to vulnerable populations in the country.

“Any such renewed effort from the US should also explicitly recognize the gendered nature of this genocide. The military’s systemic use of sexual and other gendered violence is critical to understanding both the Rohingya genocide and its ongoing post-coup crimes.”

WHO issues new guidelines on abortion to help countries deliver lifesaving care

The World Health Organization (WHO) is releasing new guidelines on abortion care today, in a bid to protect the health of women and girls and help prevent over 25 million unsafe abortions that currently occur each year.

“Being able to obtain safe abortion is a crucial part of health care,” said Craig Lissner, acting Director for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO. “Nearly every death and injury that results from unsafe abortion is entirely preventable. That’s why we recommend women and girls can access abortion and family planning services when they need them.”

Based on the latest scientific evidence, these consolidated guidelines bring together over 50 recommendations spanning clinical practice, health service delivery, and legal and policy interventions to support quality abortion care.

New recommendations to improve access to high quality, person-centred services

When abortion is carried out using a method recommended by WHO, appropriate to the duration of the pregnancy and assisted by someone with the necessary information or skills, it is a simple and extremely safe procedure.

Tragically, however, only around half of all abortions take place under such conditions, with unsafe abortions causing around 39 000 deaths every year and resulting in millions more women hospitalized with complications. Most of these deaths are concentrated in lower-income countries – with over 60% in Africa and 30% in Asia – and among those living in the most vulnerable situations. 

The guideline includes recommendations on many simple primary care level interventions that improve the quality of abortion care provided to women and girls. These include task sharing by a wider range of health workers; ensuring access to medical abortion pills, which mean more women can obtain safe abortion services, and making sure that accurate information on care is available to all those who need it. 

For the first time, the guidelines also include recommendations for use where appropriate of telemedicine, which helped support access to abortion and family planning services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Removing unnecessary policy barriers facilitates safe abortion access

Alongside the clinical and service delivery recommendations, the guidelines recommend removing medically unnecessary policy barriers to safe abortion, such as criminalization, mandatory waiting times, the requirement that approval must be given by other people (e.g., partners or family members) or institutions, and limits on when during pregnancy an abortion can take place. Such barriers can lead to critical delays in accessing treatment and put women and girls at greater risk of unsafe abortion, stigmatization, and health complications, while increasing disruptions to education and their ability to work.

While most countries permit abortion under specified circumstances, about 20 countries provide no legal grounds for abortion. More than 3 in 4 countries have legal penalties for abortion, which can include lengthy prison sentences or heavy fines for people having or assisting with the procedure. 

“It’s vital that an abortion is safe in medical terms,” said Dr Bela Ganatra, Head of WHO’s Prevention of Unsafe Abortion Unit. “But that’s not enough on its own. As with any other health services, abortion care needs to respect the decisions and needs of women and girls, ensuring that they are treated with dignity and without stigma or judgement. No one should be exposed to abuse or harms like being reported to the police or put in jail because they have sought or provided abortion care." 

Evidence shows that restricting access to abortions does not reduce the number of abortions that take place. In fact, restrictions are more likely to drive women and girls towards unsafe procedures. In countries where abortion is most restricted, only 1 in 4 abortions are safe, compared to nearly 9 in 10 in countries where the procedure is broadly legal. 

“The evidence is clear – if you want to prevent unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, you need to provide women and girls with a comprehensive package of sexuality education, accurate family planning information and services, and access to quality abortion care,” Dr Ganatra added.

Following the launch of the guidelines, WHO will support interested countries to implement these new guidelines and strengthen national policies and programmes related to contraception, family planning and abortion services, helping them provide the highest standard of care for women and girls.

Q&A: Rohingya Genocide Case Steps Toward Justice

International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearings beginning February 21, 2022 underline the critical importance of bringing justice for the Myanmar military’s abuses against ethnic Rohingya, Human Rights Watch and the Global Justice Center said today. The groups released a question-and-answer document outlining recent developments in the case, including the impact of the February 1, 2021 military coup in Myanmar, on the ICJ proceedings.

The hearings at the court from February 21 to 28 are for the case brought by Gambia against Myanmar alleging that the military’s atrocities in Rakhine State against Rohingya Muslims violate the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention).

“The International Court of Justice hearings are the next step in the landmark case to break the cycle of violence and impunity in Myanmar,” said Nushin Sarkarati, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The case could build a pathway to justice, not only for the Rohingya, but for everyone in the country.”

In November 2019, Gambia filed a case before the ICJ alleging that Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine State violate various provisions of the Genocide Convention. The case before the ICJ is not a criminal case against individual alleged perpetrators, but a legal determination of state responsibility for genocide.

The ICJ held hearings in December 2019, on Gambia’s request, for provisional measures to protect the Rohingya remaining in Myanmar from genocide, which the court unanimously adopted in January 2020. The new hearings will cover Myanmar’s preliminary objections to the case, which challenge the court’s jurisdiction and Gambia’s legal standing to file the case.

The court’s provisional measures require Myanmar to prevent all genocidal acts against the Rohingya, to ensure that security forces do not commit acts of genocide, and to take steps to preserve evidence related to the case. Myanmar is legally bound to comply with this order. However, Human Rights Watch and others have documented ongoing grave abuses against the 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Myanmar, contravening the provisional measures ordered by the court.

Since the February 2021 coup, junta security forces have carried out mass killings, torture, sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses that Human Rights Watch believes amount to crimes against humanity. Security forces have killed over 1,500 people since the coup, including at least 100 children, and arbitrarily detained over 11,000 activists, politicians, journalists, and others. Rohingya have also faced even greater movement restrictions and harsher punishments for attempting to leave Rakhine State, which amount to the crimes against humanity of persecution, apartheid, and severe deprivation of liberty.

In 2019, Myanmar’s government appointed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to lead its delegation to the ICJ. During the 2021 coup, the military arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and a junta-controlled court sentenced her to six years in prison. She still faces over 150 years in prison combined on various additional fabricated charges. On June 24, 2021, the junta announced that it appointed a panel of eight senior junta officials to represent Myanmar’s delegation before the court.

During the February hearings, representatives of Myanmar and Gambia will present arguments as to whether the ICJ has jurisdiction to examine the genocide claims against Myanmar. The hearings will take place in a hybrid format, including both in-person and virtual participants. Live streaming of the hearings will be available in English and French on the court’s website and on UN Web TV.

While the ICJ case focuses exclusively on alleged crimes against the Rohingya, the military has committed brutal abuses across Myanmar. In the wake of the coup, ethnic groups have sought greater solidarity in the pursuit of justice, as the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya have been echoed in attacks on civilians around the country. The ICJ case could set the stage to scrutinize the Myanmar military’s longstanding international crimes more widely, Human Rights Watch and the Global Justice Center said.

“As the Myanmar military continues to commit atrocities against anti-coup protesters and ethnic minorities, it should be put on notice there will be consequences for these actions – past, present, and future,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “The ICJ’s proceedings are laying the groundwork for accountability in Myanmar – not only for the Rohingya, but for all others who have suffered at the hands of the military.”

For a question-and-answer document on recent developments on Gambia’s Case Against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice, please visit: https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/02/14/developments-gambias-case-against-myanmar-international-court-justice

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on international justice, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/topic/international-justice    
 
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Myanmar, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/myanmar-burma  

For more on the Global Justice Center’s work on Myanmar, please visit:
https://globaljusticecenter.net/our-work/demanding-justice-for-sexual-and-gender-based-violence/mass-atrocity-crimes

New Hearings Announced in Genocide Case Against Myanmar at World Court

NEW YORK — Reports surfaced today that the International Court of Justice will hold hearings on February 21 in The Gambia’s case against Myanmar for the 2017 genocide of the Rohingya. The hearings — the first since last year’s military coup — will consider Myanmar’s “preliminary objections” to the case.

Preliminary objections are typically filed to raise procedural issues before the court considers the merits of the case. Objections filed by Myanmar likely include challenges to The Gambia’s standing to file the case and to the existence of a dispute with The Gambia. More information on preliminary objections and the military coup’s effect on the case can be found here.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“It is important that a critical vehicle to secure accountability for the Rohingya genocide is moving forward, especially after the perpeptrators of this grave crime took power in a coup. The present crisis in Myanmar was born of impunity and it will take accountability at this court and elsewhere to move Myanmar back on the path to democracy.

“Myanmar’s preliminary objections are little more than delay tactics. In its hearings and order on provisional measures, the court already considered and rejected many of these arguments. The fact is Myanmar violated the Genocide Convention and Myanmar will do everything it can to avoid facing justice. And with the news that the military junta will defend in this case, the perpetrators of the Rohingya genocide will now be the one’s physically present in court to answer for their atrocities.

“The military has not only yet to be held accountable for its grievous crimes, but illegally seized power over their country. In its repression of the pro-democracy movement, the military is continuing the human rights abuses that a generation of impunity has afforded. It’s past time for these atrocities to be met with consequences and this case is a vital tool to secure such justice.”

Civil society welcomes the UN General Assembly’s decision to reject the Myanmar military junta, urges the UN to cease all forms of cooperation that lend them legitimacy

Today, the UN General Assembly adopted the recommendations made by the Credentials Committee of the UN to defer the decision on who will represent Myanmar at the UN. The decision constitutes a clear rejection of the illegal Myanmar military junta’s application for credentials to the UN, leaving U Kyaw Moe Tun, the current Permanent Representative of Myanmar, to continue to represent the country at the world body.

The recommendation for deferral by the Credentials Committee comprised of nine UN Member States including the United States, China and Russia, is a huge blow to the murderous junta that have killed at least 1,303 people since the coup, including around 100 children, and arbitrarily arrested 10,681 people.  

Khin Ohmar, founder and Chairperson of Progressive Voice: “We welcome this decision by the UN General Assembly to reject the terrorist military junta and call on all UN agencies, funds and programs to cease all forms of cooperation that lend the junta any legitimacy. UN agencies must end its complicity in emboldening the junta by inviting them to meetings, conferences and other platforms that offers them the opportunity to create a façade of legitimacy.

International bodies, including the Human Rights Council, the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization, must now accept nominations made by U Kyaw Moe Tun and recognize the authority of Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the UN.”

Charles Santiago, chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), and a Malaysian Member of Parliament:“The UN General Assembly’s decision sends a strong message to ASEAN and other regional and international institutions that the junta must not be recognized as the legitimate representatives of Myanmar. Any engagement by ASEAN or any of its members with the military junta undermines its credibility and is an affront to the courageous and continuing calls made by the people of Myanmar to reject the junta.

As we saw in a graphic video shared on social media over the weekend of the military deliberately running down peaceful demonstrators, despite the risks, the Myanmar people are literally putting their lives on the line every day to reject the junta, and calling for their voices to be heard.”

Grant Shubin, Legal Director of Global Justice Center:“Today’s result is a vote of confidence for the rule of law in Myanmar—but much more remains to be done. The junta has committed crimes against humanity with its widespread and systematic attacks on the people of Myanmar. In addition to denying the junta the legitimacy it craves, the international community must also take positive steps to end the Tatmadaw’s impunity and ensure justice and accountability for Myanmar.”

On 10 September, 358 Myanmar and international civil society organizations called on the UN Member States to ensure that the current Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the UN, Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun, retains his position as Myanmar’s representative to the UN. See the open letter to members of the UN General Assembly here: https://progressivevoicemyanmar.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/UNGA_Credentials_FINAL_ENG.pdf

Joint Statement on Supreme Court Arguments in Texas Abortion Case

The following is a joint statement about the Texas abortion law by the Global Justice Center, Amnesty International USA, and Human Rights Watch;

The United States Supreme Court is holding oral arguments on November 1, 2021 on procedural questions related to challenges brought against an extreme anti-abortion law in the state of Texas. Key protections for the human rights of pregnant people in the United States are at stake.

In a recent brief to the court ahead of upcoming arguments on the state of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, the Global Justice Center, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch made clear that abortion bans, such as the 6-week restriction in Texas, are inconsistent with international human rights protections.

Upholding the Texas ban – as well as Mississippi’s 15-week ban, set to be heard by the court in December – would place the US at odds with a worldwide trend toward expansion of abortion access.

From Mexico to Ireland, countries around the world have taken major steps to broaden access to abortion in recent years. A significant majority of women of reproductive age – almost 60 percent – now live in countries where abortion is generally available.

In addition, these state abortion bans place the US in direct violation of its human rights obligations. The rights implicated in these cases – to life, nondiscrimination, freedom from torture, and privacy – come from binding treaties the US has ratified. Even the anti-abortion group C-Fam acknowledged in its brief to the court that all nine independent expert bodies monitoring state compliance with major international human rights treaties have recommended that abortion should be made more available in the US.

This case is just the latest effort in the US anti-abortion movement’s campaign to make abortion inaccessible across the country. Whether in Texas, Mississippi, or Florida, these attempts violate the human rights of pregnant people in the US. If the US is to respect human rights, it needs to expand, not restrict, access to abortion.

Statement on Tina Tchen Following Reports of Involvement with Effort to Discredit Survivor of Sexual Harassment by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo

In May of 2019, the Global Justice Center awarded Tina Tchen with a “Feminist Changemaker” award for her work on women’s rights under the Obama administration. We are deeply saddened and disappointed at recent reports of Tchen’s involvement in efforts to discredit a survivor of sexual harassment by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. We stand in solidarity with the survivors and victims who have called out not only the harms caused by Cuomo, but also the systems that keep abusers in power. We urge those in power to ensure that all survivors and victims of sexual harassment are heard without persecution.

Press Conference: Women Leaders of Burma/Myanmar Disappointed with International Community

At a virtual press conference held today, women of Burma/Myanmar demanded greater accountability from ASEAN and the international community in their response to the recent military coup in the country. Since the coup, the armed and security forces have waged systemic gender-based violence and sexual violence against women, especially within the ethnic community. 

Naw Hser Hser, General Secretary of Women’s League of Burma (WLB) said, “Women Human Rights Defenders are being actively targeted by the military regime. There are chilling reports of female detainees being subjected to harrowing sexual assault, torture, physical and verbal abuse, and intimidation. The military’s use of rape as a weapon of war and sexual violence is a tool to demoralize and destroy ethnic communities. Their widespread and systematic nature indicates a structural pattern. “

Several documented cases recently have shown large-scale violence against women including forcing them to exchange sex for removing their names from the warrant list, sexual assault in custody, and other forms of sexual and verbal abuse. There are also growing attacks on women human rights defenders for leading the resistance against Myanmar's military. At least 895 women have been detained so far and 56 confirmed cases of women and girls being killed, though the numbers could be higher.

“One-third of the Karenni population in Karenni State has been forced to flee their villages due to fighting between Burmese army and people resistance groups. Displaced women and children are at increased risk of being victims of human rights violations. We demand the international community to take immediate actions against the military, and provide access to humanitarian aid for the IDPs, in partnership with local ethnic service providers”, said a representative from Karenni National Women’s Organisation.

Moon Nay Li,  Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT)shared, “The military coup is having the deepest impact on those who are already marginalized due to the decades of civil war and ongoing human rights violations committed  Burmese military. Humanitarian aid must be closely monitored to ensure that it benefits the conflict-affected ethnic communities and not the military. At the same time, they need to make sure that all women and girls get access to health, legal, and social services.”

On 18 June 2021, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on Burma/Myanmar with no participation from women leaders or activists on the ground or women’s rights organizations from the country. The resolution also saw a split vote from ASEAN nations with at least four countries abstaining from voting.

“The failure of regional processes like ASEAN in holding the military regime accountable in Burma has been extremely disappointing. Women have historically led the resistance on the ground and hold the key to restoring peace and justice in the country. Absence of their voices and leadership in UN processes will only lead to the repetition of injustice and failure of the international community in fulfilling the purposes of the UN Charter ”, said Misun Woo, Regional Coordinator of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development (APWLD).

“It is long overdue for the international community to move statements of concern and take real action. Burma’s military is notorious for grave human rights violations, most notably using sexual and gender-based violence as a tool of oppression, and its operations since the coup are no exception. The current crisis was born out of the military’s complete impunity for international crimes, and accountability for ongoing and past abuses must be part of the solution”, said Grant Shubin, Global Justice Center.

For more than seven decades, the military has waged war in several ethnic states of Burma/Myanmar. It is time to hold the military regime accountable by the international community and refer it to the International Criminal Court for these mass atrocities. Ensuring women’s voices, leadership and meaningful participation in all UN processes is the only way the international community can fulfil its obligation to the people of Burma/Myanmar.

UN General Assembly Passes Resolution on Myanmar Coup

NEW YORK — The United Nations General Assembly today passed a resolution addressing the military coup in Myanmar. It is the first resolution from the general assembly since the coup on February 1.

This resolution comes on the same day of a closed-door briefing on Myanmar at the UN Security Council. The Council has issued several statements on the coup, but has yet to pass any resolution.

Grant Shubin, legal director of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“A resolution from the General Assembly is a necessary and positive step for the international community. But just like with Security Council actions that precede it, today’s resolution does not go far enough to meet the demands of Myanmar’s people.

“The bright sides of the General Assembly’s resolution, including the call on all nations to prevent arms flows into Myanmar, are in stark contrast to the Security Council’s failure to take decisive action.

“As the body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council can no longer stand idly by while Myanmar’s military uses its decades-old playbook to commit widespread and systematic human rights violations. The time for closed meetings and toothless statements of concern is over.”

“The Security Council must finally do what women’s rights activists in Myanmar have been calling for for years — take concrete and decisive action to condemn the military and hold them accountable for international crimes committed against all of Myanmar’s people.”

President Biden Releases Budget That Removes Hyde Amendment, Leaves Other Abortion Restrictions in Place

NEW YORK — In his first presidential budget released today, President Biden removed the Hyde Amendment, but left in place several other restrictions on abortion funding, including the Helms Amendment.

The Helms Amendment has prohibited any U.S. foreign aid from going to abortion services since 1973. Among other anti-abortion policies included in the budget, the president also left in place the Siljander Amendment, which prevents the use of US funds to lobby for or against abortion.

Elena Sarver, legal advisor with the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“The president is right to remove the Hyde Amendment from his budget, but the Helms Amendment and Hyde are two sides of the same coin. Both restrict access to abortion care in violation of international law. Both have been recognized by the international community as violations of human rights. There is simply no reason to protect the rights of pregnant people here in the US, but deny them to pregnant people around the world.

“At the United Nations and other international venues, the Biden administration continues to say it is a champion of sexual and reproductive rights. But the inclusion of illegal and destructive abortion funding restrictions like Helms shows this is mere rhetoric rather than a true commitment. Combine this failure with their refusal to utter the word ‘abortion,’ this administration has a lot of work to do before it can truly claim to be a champion of reproductive rights.”

​​​​​​​200+ NGOs Call on UN Security Council to Impose Global Arms Embargo on Myanmar

NEW YORK — Over 200 nongovernmental organizations from around the world today called on the United Nations Security Council to immediately impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar in response to the military coup and ensuing human rights abuses.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“The urgency of a global arms embargo in Myanmar cannot be overstated. Myanmar’s military has long been one of the world’s most notorious perpetrators of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. Such violence has ramped up since the coup, with harrowing reports of torture and sexual violence against women and girl detainees. International arms sales fuel these ongoing military crimes and its past time UN Security Council members back up their rhetoric on women’s rights with concrete action.”

140+ Organizations Demand Biden Administration Implement International Recommendations on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

More than 140 organizations signed onto a letter sent to President Biden today urging him to implement recommendations on sexual and reproductive rights issued by United Nations member states. The recommendations came as part of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a process that reviews the human rights records of all UN Member States.

Signing organizations represent a diverse cross-section of issues and expertise, including in human rights, reproductive rights, racial justice, and global health. The full letter and list of signees can be found here: http://bit.ly/BidenUPRletter

The US received numerous UPR recommendations, and several countries called for the US to take action on its abortion restrictions on foreign assistance, in particular the Helms AmendmentThe Biden administration responded to these recommendations, but did not mention Helms and instead referred to their recent repeal of the Global Gag Rule.

To implement these recommendations, the letter outlines several executive and administrative actions the administration can take now:

  • Take executive action and issue guidance to immediately clarify US foreign assistance can be used to provide abortion care in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment of the pregnant person
  • Issue guidance from relevant agencies to proactively clarify that US foreign assistance may be used for abortion information and counseling under the Leahy Amendment
  • Prioritize the removal of abortion funding restrictions like the Helms Amendment through the White House Gender Policy Council, in addition to addressing many other important sexual and reproductive health and rights priorities and considering the role of racial and other forms of discrimination on recipients of sexual and reproductive healthcare in the US and globally
  • Consult with stakeholders and agencies to issue policies to combat systemic racism and ensure implementation of these policies at the state, federal and local levels, recognizing domestic US policy influences the values exported through US foreign assistance 
  • Eliminate Helms Amendment and similar abortion funding restrictions from FY 2022 budget

Four of the signing organizations issued the following statements:

“The Biden administration says it is committed to advancing sexual and reproductive rights around the world. Now, they have an opportunity to prove it,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center. “A failure to implement these recommendations would make the US commitment to the human rights system be mere rhetoric, and worse yet, rhetoric that is directly undermined by the failure to act.”

“It is time for the U.S. to join the global community to support and defend reproductive justice,” said Dr. Anu Kumar, president and CEO of Ipas. “Ending abortion funding restrictions like the Helms Amendment will protect people seeking abortion, will help countries expand access to health services, and will bring us closer to achieving reproductive and economic freedom and equity for millions worldwide. This policy has harmed Black and brown communities in low-to-middle income countries for far too long.”

“It is not enough to remove the Global Gag Rule and maintain the pre-Trump status quo,” said Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, Founder & President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative. “The Biden administration must go further to advance reproductive justice by supporting repeal of the Helms Amendment and advancing racial justice in the United States. The last year demonstrated how much further the US has to go to achieve racial justice and eliminate white supremacy from our domestic and foreign policy. This cannot wait.”

“This is an opportunity for Biden’s administration to fulfill its commitment to reproductive health care by completely removing abortion funding restrictions from US foreign assistance, ensuring that no woman, girl, or young person dies from an unsafe abortion as a result of stigma, lack of information, and lack of life-saving services,” said Nelly Munyasia, Executive Director of Reproductive Health Network Kenya. “One death as a result of unsafe abortion is far too many deaths.”

 

President Biden Repeals ICC Sanctions

NEW YORK — The Biden administration today repealed sanctions against the International Criminal Court. 

The sanctions, levied against Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and other court officials, were issued by President Trump last year following the court’s announcement of an investigation into potential war crimes committed by US military forces in Afghanistan.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“The Biden administration did the right thing today by ending this reckless assault on a critical and independent judicial institution. Former President Trump’s sanctions were issued to help the US and its close allies evade accountability for their own human rights abuses, but their impact went much further by targeting court officials and their urgent work.

“Repeal is a start, but if the Biden administration wishes to be a true champion of human rights and the rule of law, it must fundamentally shift the US relationship with the court. This must include a genuine effort to ratify the court’s Rome Statute to demonstrate that the US commitment to justice is not merely rhetorical.

“For too long, the US approach to the court has been hypocritical, cementing a belief that it is beyond reproach and above the law. It’s time for the US to take its own human rights obligations seriously and submit itself to the international institutions they champion, thus beginning a robust, healthy engagement with this vital institution.”

Akila Radhakrishnan Named in List of Top 100 Influencers in Gender Policy

NEW YORK — In a list launched today, Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan was named by Apolitical as one of the world's 100 most influential people in gender policy in 2021. This year's list includes prominent feminist politicians, activists, and academics such as Jacinda Arden, Patricia Viseur Sellers, Stella Nyanzi, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, and many more. 

Akila was featured for her work on gender-based violence and, specifically, her legal advocacy on abortion access in conflict and the gendered aspects of genocide. Other honorees were featured for their work on economic justice and rights, reproductive rights, climate change, technological innovation, and movement leadership.

You can view the full list here: https://apolitical.co/list/en/gender-equality-100

Myanmar Representative to UN Denounces Coup and Urges Security Council Action

NEW YORK — During a briefing before the United Nations General Assembly today, Myanmar’s representative to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, denounced the coup carried out by his country’s military. He also urged the UN Security Council and international community to use “any means necessary” to hold the military accountable.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“The world should applaud the bravery of Representative Kyaw Moe Tun for delivering such a powerful statement on behalf of the people of Myanmar, not the illegitimate military junta. The international community must reward such courage by taking up his call for immediate, decisive action to hold the military accountable.

“The representative made his statement on behalf of the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluuttaw (CRPH), composed of duly elected members of parliament, not the illegal military regime. The international community should support the will of the people of Myanmar by recognizing the CRPH and refusing to legitimize, normalize, or cooperate with the military government.

“In defending his people and democracy on the world stage, the representative made it clear that the military poses an existential threat to the country and that the coup must fail. The path to a peaceful, democratic, and multi-ethnic Myanmar will require steps to financial isolation of the military and their access to arms, accountability for military crimes, and — perhaps most importantly — a new federal Constitution.

“The people of Myanmar have spoken at great risk to their personal safety and security. Now is the time for the international community to stand with them and take forceful, concerted action.”

UN Human Rights Council Passes Resolution on Myanmar Coup

NEW YORK — The United Nations Human Rights Council today passed a resolution on human rights concerns in Myanmar following the military coup. The resolution followed an emergency session requested by the United Kingdom and the European Union.

The resolution, adopted by consensus, denounced the coup and the violations of civil and human rights that followed. It called on Myanmar’s military and security forces to refrain from violence and protect fundamental human rights. It also requested further UN monitoring of the situation and called for Myanmar’s cooperation.

Grant Shubin, legal director of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“The council took an important step today by passing a resolution against the coup and urging respect for democratic and human rights. The resolution rightly called on the Myanmar military to release those arbitrarily detained, including Aung San Suu Kyi. But, it failed to address the most necessary condition for change: accountability.

“Structural impunity for crimes committed by the military is what emboldened the military to stage a coup. The international community has continually failed to combat this impunity cemented by Myanmar’s pseudo-democratic constitution. The council could have taken the opportunity today to confront this failure by acknowledging that there is no sustainable path forward for Myanmar without accountability for those responsible for human rights violations.

“People across Myanmar are uniting more and more around the demand to bring the military under civilian control. They recognize that the military is the chief obstacle to democracy and human rights in the country. It’s time the international bodies like the UN Human Rights Council recognize this fact that the coup has made undeniable.”

UN Security Council Issues Statement on Myanmar Coup

NEW YORK — The United Nations Security Council issued a press statement today in response to the military coup in Myanmar. The statement, drafted by current council president the United Kingdom, follows days of strained negotiations between council members.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, had the following reaction:

“It is some relief for the people of Myanmar that the UN Security Council finally took action today by agreeing on a statement concerning the military coup. But thanks to recent, historic levels of gridlock on the Council, the bar has been set far too low. If this statement is not followed by formal action, it is meaningless.

“As a start, holding an open meeting on the crisis would build trust in the Council’s commitment to meaningful action and to execute its mandate to maintain international peace and security. Yet it is crucial the Council listens to communities most at risk in Myanmar, who have been clear from the beginning that targeted sanctions on the military and military owned companies, an arms embargo, and efforts to hold the military accountable are the concrete actions the international community must take to address this emergency.

“The geopolitical reality between Council members is no doubt complicated. Yet it is certain that the Council’s continued failure to act will have dangerous ramifications for the people of Myanmar. Ethnic groups like the Rohingya, activists, and others who speak out against the military are at risk. The military must be shown that there are consequences for such brazen attacks on democracy. The Council is in a unique position to lead this charge for accountability and if it fails, the people of Myanmar are all the more likely to face another violent era of military dictatorship.”

Frmr. Sec. Pompeo’s “Commission on Unalienable Rights” Cannot Evade Accountability After Breaking Federal Law

Originally posted by Democracy Forward

Human Rights Orgs Press Lawsuit Over Commission’s Failure to Follow Transparency Law

New York, N.Y. — On Friday, four international human rights groups — Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), the Council for Global Equality, and the Global Justice Center, represented by Democracy Forward — explained in a new court filing why former Secretary Mike Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights cannot evade accountability after breaking federal transparency law at every turn. The groups filed suit over the Commission in March 2020.

In violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), former Secretary Pompeo deliberately stacked the Commission on Unalienable Rights with members with known hostility to LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights and without any known human rights practitioners. Pompeo’s Commission then unlawfully operated behind closed doors to produce an irreparably compromised final report. Once the report was published, Pompeo and the Commission’s members harmed the interests of human rights practitioners by touting the Commission’s findings and conclusions before the United Nationsforeign governments, and foreign civil society organizations. But the Commission’s report is unlawful and should be labeled as such. We’ll continue to fight for these results in court.

Military Stages Coup in Burma

NEW YORK — Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, seized power today in Burma following days of threats. State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested along with many other political figures and government critics.

The Tatmadaw handed power over to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, its Commander-in-Chief, and declared a state of emergency lasting one year. 

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“This is the moment democracy activists and ethnic minorities have feared since the 2008 military-drafted constitution was used as the basis for ‘transition’ and utterly failed to reign in military supremacy. The Tatmadaw has exposed the vast vulnerabilities of Burma's democratic institutions by staging this brazen coup. Given the history of military rule, the risk of ensuing violence and atrocities is greater than any moment in recent memory.

“We can’t ignore the repeated failure of the international community to take concerted action to curb military power and hold it accountable for its constant human rights abuses, including its genocidal campaign against the Rohingya. For years, world leaders praised a ‘democratic’ transition and constitution that gave the military the very power they used to stage today’s coup. Now, we’re seeing the consequences of an international order that blinds itself to reality in the interest of ‘progress’ and economic investment instead of protecting human rights.

“The military must be called upon to swiftly release all political detainees and respect the results of November’s election, but action cannot end there. Women’s rights and ethnic minority groups in Burma have long decried military impunity for international crimes such as sexual violence. They have repeatedly called for international action, including a referral to the International Criminal Court and targeted sanctions. It’s past time for the international community to embrace their demands and pursue a policy grounded in justice, accountability, and human rights for all.”