News headlines for “Human Rights Issues”

Merkel Under Pressure for Refugee Policy in Germany

Thursday, February 23, 2017

MUNICH, Feb 23 (IPS) - Internationally, German chancellor Angela Merkel was praised for her humanitarian decision to open the countries' border to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and Iraq. But the decision has considerably reduced her support among Germans. Chances are real that Merkel could lose the chancellorship in the upcoming national elections.

Five Key G20 Powers Break Promise to Help Tackle Corruption

Thursday, February 23, 2017

ROME/BERLIN, Feb 23 (IPS) - Five key G20 countries are failing to meet commitments to publish data that helps tackle corruption, warns a new report by international anti-corruption watchdogs.

Humanitarian Crisis, Result of Decades of Globalization with No Concern for Social Justice

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

GENEVA, Feb 21 (IPS) - The distressing images of desperate people making the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkans to escape armed conflict, social tensions, discrimination and poverty harm the preconditions to achieve social harmony.

Confusion over U.S. Travel Ban Grounds Foreign Correspondents

Monday, February 20, 2017

NEW YORK, Feb 20 (IPS) - New restrictions on immigrants and refugees coming to the United States are also posing challenges for foreign correspondents covering news in the United States. Some have had to indefinitely postpone plans to report on conflicts in the Middle East while others have found an unfriendly reminder of their past treatment as journalists in less free countries.

Aging, Depression and Disease in South Africa

Monday, February 20, 2017

Canberra, Philadelphia and Manchester, Feb 20 (IPS) - Old age is often characterised by poor health due to isolation, morbidities and disabilities in carrying out activities of daily living (DADLs) leading to depression.

Alternative Mining Indaba Makes Its Voice Heard

Saturday, February 18, 2017

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Feb 18 (IPS) - "Comrades, we have arrived. This cherry is eight years awaited. We have made it to this place," Bishop Jo Seoka told the crowd, pausing to allow for the whistles and cheers.

Expansion of Renewable Energies in Mexico Has Victims

Friday, February 17, 2017

KIMBILÁ, Mexico, Feb 17 (IPS) - The growing number of wind and solar power projects in the southern Mexican state of Yucatán are part of a positive change in Mexico's energy mix. But affected communities do not see it in the same way, due to the fact that they are not informed or consulted, and because of how the phenomenon changes their lives.

Corruption Brings Down an Empire: Odebrecht in Brazil

Thursday, February 16, 2017

RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 16 (IPS) - People in Brazil have been overwhelmed by the flood of news stories about the huge web of corruption woven by the country's biggest construction company, Odebrecht, which is active in dozens of fields and countries.

The business empire built by three generations of the Odebrecht family is falling apart after three years of investigation by the Lava Jato (car wash) operation launched by the Federal Public Prosecutor's office in Brazil, which is investigating the corruption that diverted millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for major public works contracts from the state-run oil giant Petrobras.

Marcelo Odebrecht, who headed the company from 2008 to 2015, was arrested in June 2015 and was initially sentenced to 19 years in prison.

In October he and the company reached plea bargain deals to cooperate with the investigation. A total of 77 former and present Odebrecht executives provided over 900 sworn statements to Lava Jato prosecutors, causing a political earthquake in Brazil and throughout Latin America.

In December, the U.S. Justice Department revealed that Odebrecht allegedly spent 1.04 billion dollars in bribes to politicians and government officials in ten Latin American and two African countries, including Brazil, which accounted for 57.7 per cent of the total.

The United States is carrying out its own investigation, which could end in criminal convictions, since several Odebrecht subsidiaries, such as the petrochemical company Braskem, operate there, and their shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

That is also happening in the case of Petrobras, implicated in the corruption scandal and under investigation at the initiative of shareholders in the U.S.

The U.S. and Switzerland, where banks were allegedly used to funnel bribes or launder money, signed cooperation agreements with legal authorities in Brazil, as part of the ongoing offensive against corruption in Latin America's giant.

The impacts are overwhelming. In Brazil, the revelations about Odebrecht are expected to provoke a tsunami in the political system. Two hundred parliamentarians and government officials may have received bribes, including senior members of the current administration and legislature.

The business group had created a specialised bribe department. According to U.S. justice authorities, every dollar "invested" in bribes produced 12 dollars in contracts.

That estimate is based on more than 100 projects carried out or in progress in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Venezuela, plus Angola and Mozambique in Africa.

Part of the Caracas valley seen from the San Agustín Metrocable, one of the many works assigned to Odebrecht in Venezuela during the government of Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), when the Brazilian company became the biggest construction firm in the country. Credit: Raúl Límaco/IPS

The arrest warrant issued by a court in Peru against former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), who has been living in the United States, and allegations implicating current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, are just the tip of the iceberg.

What was revealed by Odebrecht executives and former executives, as well as former directors of different departments, such as external affairs, infrastructure, industrial engineering or logistics, has not yet been made public.

New figures involving alleged bribes are expected to come out over the next few months, added to those already disclosed in the United States, including 599 million dollars distributed in Brazil, 98 million in Venezuela, 92 million in the Dominican Republic, 59 million in Panama and 50 million in Angola.

In Peru the total revealed so far is "only" 29 million dollars since 2005. The sum is small, considering that for the Southern Peru pipeline - still under construction – alone, the projected investments amount to seven billion dollars. The Peruvian government has decided to terminate the contract with Odebrecht for the project.

Besides Odebrecht, the Inter-Oceanic Highway, which runs across southern Peru from the Brazilian border to Pacific Ocean ports, is being built by three other Brazilian construction firms - Camargo Correa, Andrade Gutierrez and Queiroz Galvão – which are also under investigation for suspicion of corruption.

During the presidency of Alan Garcia (2006-2011), Peru and Brazil signed an agreement for the construction of five large hydropower plants in Peru, which was cancelled by his successor, Ollanta Humala (2011-2016), who, however, is suspected of receiving three million dollars from Brazil for his election campaign.

Odebrecht, which has a concession to manage Chaglla, the third biggest hydroelectric plant in Peru, with a capacity of 462 MW, was to be the main construction company in charge of building the new plants.

Authorities Urged to Disclose Anti-Money Laundering Efforts

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ROME / BERLIN, Feb 15 (IPS) - Bank regulators need to publish much more information about whether banks are doing what's required by law to stop money laundering, says a major international anti-corruption watchdog.

The Algerian Emir Who Set a Protection of Prisoners Code in 1842

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ROME/OXFORD, Feb 15 (IPS) - As far back as the 1830s, Algerian Emir Abd el Qader el Jazairy was known for having introduced, among others, rules concerning the humane treatment of prisoners, which developed in 1842 into his Code for the Protection of Prisoners.

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