Human trafficking for sexual purposes has become one of the most profitable violations of human rights. There are an estimated 40 million victims of human trafficking, 71% of whom are women. One of the countries with the highest number of victims of sex trafficking is Nigeria. Most Nigerian women leave their homes in hopes of a better future, but in reality become victims of a very organized and sophisticated net of human trafficking and sexual slavery.
The Nigerian wave of immigration to Europe had already begun in the 80s, when mostly women saw a possibility of economic improvement by leaving Africa and moving to Europe. Many of them travelled with false documents and became prostitutes in European cities as finding regular jobs was difficult without legal status in the country. While lying about the reality to their families, many Nigerian families saved and even borrowed money to send other children to Europe as well.
Through constant technological advances, many questions regarding human rights arise. Does artificial intelligence and technology play a role in human rights? If so, does it help to protect human rights or does technology infringe upon them in certain ways?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.” This can include many forms of technology, including security camera services, computers, phones, etc. On the one hand technology leads to economic growth and new discoveries, however, it is important to also recognize that technological advances have the ability to lead to increased access to personal information of most people in society. For example, the Australian Human Rights Commission fears that both the government and the public in general are behind the speed of technological development; in other words, neither recognizes the full force of technology.
Justice reforms in Poland have now been criticized for several years by Polish lawyers as well as the EU. Disciplinary punishment of judges will now be handled by a special Disciplinary Panel after the latest amendment. What was the reaction of the EU and what will follow?
Since 2015, Poland has been adopting major reforms, reshaping the foundations of its judicial system. Many of these came into force while both the laic and expert public demonstrated their discontent with these changes of the Polish justice system.
At the end of January 2020, the French bill for in-vitro fertilization for single women and lesbians passed the Senate's first reading. The bill was passed with 160 votes in favour and 116 against. It aims to ensure that French women will have the ability to raise their biological children and thus preserve their genetic information.
France has one of the strictest laws on approach to fertility treatment in Europe. The access to equal rights related to the assisted reproduction for lesbians and single women was a campaign promise of Emmanuel Macron ahead of the presidential elections in 2017. The bill is a part of a new comprehensive bioethics law, and it is also one of Macron’s first major social reforms during his presidency.
Since 1987, Taiwan has had a long journey in the process of democratization and promotion of human rights. In spite of the repetitive rejections of its application for a seat in the United Nations, it has become determined to gradually adapt its national law to the United Nations’ human rights standards. The milestone was reached last year when Taiwan established the National Human Rights Institution according to the Paris Principles.
Self-made review process
Taiwan (officially named the Republic of China) is not a member state of the United Nations (UN). Its international status dates back to 1971 when the UN General Assembly passed Resolution No. 2758 recognizing the People’s Republic of China as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations”. Despite this fact, Taiwan has made vigorous efforts to step out from the international isolation and establish a functional democratic society based on the rule of law and the protection of human rights according to the UN human rights framework. It has started to comply with UN human rights treaties and implement their obligations in its domestic law. To date, Taiwan has implemented five of such treaties.
On 20 February 2020, seven countries, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the League of Arab States, and another 34 applicants, including NGOs and distinguished scholars were granted leave to be amici curiae (‘friends of the Court’) in the determination on jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Palestine situation. They will express their position on whether the ICC has territorial jurisdiction pursuant to Art. 12 of the Rome Statute over the crimes committed in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Preliminary examination and a struggle of the Court
The situation in Palestine has been subject to a preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) since 16 January 2015. On 20 December 2019, the OTP concluded that the issue of territorial jurisdiction needed to be resolved before a commencement of a formal investigation. In its request of 22 January, the OTP asked the Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) to rule on the issue. The decision has been praised by some as a sign of prudence and criticized by others as a cowardly move. Effectively, it shifts the burden of such an emotionally, politically and legally difficult decision from the executive to the judicial branch of the ICC.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom made a bold step, which can re-write textbooks. In the R v TRA case, the Court held that acts of torture under the UN Convention Against Torture can be committed by non-state armed groups, challenging the conservative state-centric view. How was the judgment received? What is the way forward?
The end of the decade was marked by the much anticipated judgment released by the United Kingdom Supreme Court (UKSC) in the R v TRA case. The UKSC, then still presided by Lady Hale, decided that for the purposes of domestic prosecution, the definition of torture under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) can be understood to include torture committed by officials of non-state armed groups. Such interpretation confirmed a broader understanding of who can commit torture under the UNCAT that stretches beyond the more conservative state-centric model.