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).
Eight people were convicted in July 2019 in the biggest modern slavery prosecution case in the United Kingdom, following an investigation that took three years. Five men and three women, all members of a Polish gang, enslaved and exploited more than 400 people.
The trial took place in Birmingham, with over 60 witnesses providing evidence against the prosecuted. The case was separated into two trials, the first of which already took place in February and five people were sentenced. The second trial, which concluded in July, saw another three men sentenced to prison. Seven of the eight traffickers were also convicted of money laundering.
For the past few weeks there have been numerous demonstrations filling the streets of Hong Kong. The police suppressed the demonstrators using a high level of violence in an attempt to calm the situation. Why are the citizens of Hong Kong assembling and what initiated the protests?
2019 Hong Kong Extradition Bill
The Extradition Bill  is an amended bill proposed by the government of Hong Kong in January 2019. The bill shall fix the legal loopholes that enables criminals to safely stay in the city. However, it simultaneously proposes a threat to the “one country, two systems”, since it leaves citizens of Hong Kong and those passing through the city vulnerable to possible trial (possibly unfair) in front of the courts of Mainland China, which are controlled by the Communist Party of China (CPC).
“Uighurs” are an oppressed minority group of Chinese Muslims living in Northwest China. While many voices have called for stopping China and its actions against this minority, it remains relatively unknown that the US has also played an important role in the violations of the human rights of this minority.
As a result of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the US began the “War on Terror,” a military campaign launched by President George W. Bush. The campaign was against the terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, which operated in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it also combated other terrorist groups throughout the region.
The debate over vaccinations dates back to 1998 to a study conducted by a later discredited Dr. Andrew Wakefield suggesting that vaccinations led to a rise in autism among vaccinated children. Since then, the debate has taken a foothold, with numerous people speaking against state and medically recommended vaccines, ultimately resulting in a national security, public health and human rights issue.
Although there is no federal law in the U.S. requiring vaccines, all 50 states require various vaccines for children to attend any public school, with certain exemptions for medical, religious or philosophical reasons. Additionally, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends vaccines. Almost all, regardless of their side, would say that the debate focuses on the safety and health of children. Many people against vaccines feel that vaccines have the ability to cause children to develop autism, ADHD, and diabetes, blaming corrupt government officials, greedy pharmaceutical companies and biased scientific studies. They feel that children’s immune systems can naturally deal with infections and that injecting a questionable vaccine will cause side effects.
The International Criminal Court, seated in The Hague, prosecutes perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. A Czech judge and leading expert on criminal law, Robert Fremr, is one of its 18 judges. What does this role encompass? What are Judge Fremr’s views on the Court’s current problems?
The interview was published in May 2017, in Czech, now we also present it in English.
Robert Fremr spent his whole career life focusing on criminal law. During his work as a judge, he worked on a number of courts and in 2004 he was appointed to serve at the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic. Apart from this, Judge Fremr taught criminal law at university and between the years 2006-2008 and 2010-2012 he served as ad litem judge at the International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). This international experience helped his candidacy for the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he has worked as a judge since March 2012.
Professor Manfred Nowak is a widely respected human rights expert who in 2007 started to promote a reform of the UN human rights treaty bodies that would contain the establishment of the so-called World Court of Human Rights. How does he perceive this idea today?
The interview was published in March 2016, in Czech, now we also present it in English.
The UN human rights treaty bodies are control mechanisms that monitor the respect for a number of human rights treaties at the universal level (e.g. the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). However, the functioning of the treaty bodies is in the long-term, quite inefficient and therefore, Manfred Nowak suggests that in the future these committees (e.g. the Human Rights Committee) should focus mainly on reviewing state reports.