Czech Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
The Centre is an independent academic institution monitoring human rights developments both domestically and worldwide, issuing a monthly Bulletin, as well as organizing conferences.
The British people voted for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum. The UK should have left the EU by the end of October 2019. How did the individual negotiations go and what were their results?
The referendum about Brexit
As a member state, it is possible to leave the EU on the basis of a democratic decision, which is approved by the public, as it is governed by Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This is exactly what happened in the case of the UK. The referendum took place in June 2016. The official turnout was 72.2 % of possible voters. 51.9 % people voted to withdraw, and conversely, 48.1 % people voted to remain in the EU. David Cameron resigned from his post as Prime Minister after the results went public. He was succeeded in his post by Theresa May.
Two years ago, in 2017, the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar engendered international attention. The crisis was all over the news and social media, and for a moment, the entire world seemed to be coming together to attempt to resolve the crisis and alleviate the human rights violations. Today, although the crisis is no longer anywhere near as prevalent in the media, the Rohingya are still facing extreme persecution from those in charge.
The Contemporary Problem
Today, approximately 600,000 Rohingya are still living in reprehensible conditions in Myanmar according to the United Nations’ (UN) new report released to the public in September 2019. Additionally, although genocide has not been officially named, numerous UN officials from their recent fact-finding mission and report on Myanmar have stated that the Rohingya still living in Myanmar face the “threat of genocide.”
The Head of the Czech Centre, Jan Lhotský, published on the International Criminal Court in relation to the crimes committed in Syria. The contribution titled, The International Criminal Court and Syria: the Absence of Jurisdiction and the Pressing Need for International Criminal Justice, was published in 2019 in the prestigious Dutch publishing house, Brill, as a chapter in the book, The Rome Statute of the ICC at its Twentieth Anniversary: Achievements and Perspectives. The article focuses on existing institutions monitoring crimes committed in Syria and northern Iraq, analyses the current possibilities to try persons responsible for international crimes and discusses the desirability of involving the International Criminal Court or another ad hoc criminal tribunal.
In August, Russians protested against the exclusion of opposition candidates from city assembly elections that took place later in September 2019. State authorities responded harshly. What preceded this crackdown? What is the current development concerning human rights in Russia?
Before the protests
At the beginning of September, the Moscow City Duma election took place. However, the crucial part connected to this election dates back to July when Moscow’s Election Commission published a list of candidates. This document, which represents single ballot paper composed of party’s and non-party candidates, certified who had been registered to run for the city legislative assembly in each election district. Opposition candidates were left out.
One in three girls in developing countries was married before the age of 18. Worldwide, this number amounts to approximately 700 million girls. Every day, almost 39,000 girls are forced to enter into marriage. However, this problem does not only concern developing countries but also those in North America and Europe.
Child marriage is a common practice in developing countries. For example, 34% of girls are married before their 18th birthday. Of these girls, 12% are married before they reach the age of 15. The country with the highest rate of child marriage is Niger, where 76% of women said that they were married before they turned 18. In Africa, one in three young women got married while internationally recognized as a child, i.e., under the age of 18.
A controversial law that prohibits clothing that "covers the face" from being worn in schools, hospitals, other public buildings and public transport, came into effect in the Netherlands at the beginning of August 2019. The Netherlands, therefore, became the most recent EU country to prohibit face-covering clothing in public buildings. The first country which launched similar legislative measures was France, in 2011.
The so-called Burqa Ban Act, which was passed in June of last year, is a result of 14 years of public debate on the subject. It covers the ban of wearing burqas and the niqab (two main symbols of Islamic religious dress), as well as other coverings such as ski masks, motor helmets or balaclavas in public buildings and public transport. In case of violation, there is a penalty of a 150 euro fine. The rule is partial, it does not apply to people wearing face coverings in the street (unlike more extensive bans in France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Austria and Denmark).
You can download the autumn V4 Human Rights Review here.
You have the first issue of the V4 Human Rights Review in front of you. How did this happen?
This year we commemorate 30 years since the four ‘Visegrad countries’, which include the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, began their journey to become liberal democracies. Over the years, these central European states established systems based on respect for personal liberties, rule of law and human rights.
Nevertheless, there are numerous threats to the quite new democracies, such as efforts to undermine judicial independence, restrict the rule of law or certain fundamental rights, as well as xenophobia, advance of populism and polarization of the societies. These challenges can only be successfully tackled if people are well-informed about the phenomena.