Current Human Rights in the News: 2013


Eyad El-Sarraj, Psychiatrist Who Fought For Palestinians’ Rights, Dies at 70. Eyad El-Sarraj, a Palestinian psychiatrist who pioneered mental health care in Gaza and became an internationally recognized human rights advocate, criticizing both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, died on Tuesday in a hospital in Israel.

Top U.N. Rights Official Links Assad to Crimes in Syria. The top United Nations human rights official linked President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to war crimes and crimes against humanity for the first time on Monday, citing evidence collected by her panel of investigators over the course of the 33-month-old conflict in that country.


Where Mental Asylums Live On (NY Times Opinion Pages). “People need to wake up to the sad story of widespread human rights violations against people with mental disorders in a number of countries,” said Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of the World Health Organization’s department of mental health and substance abuse.

Rules to Require Equal Coverage for Mentally Ill. The Obama administration on Friday will complete a generation-long effort to require insurers to cover care for mental health and addiction just like physical illnesses when it issues long-awaited regulations defining parity in benefits and treatment.


UN Marks World Mental Health Day by focusing on well-being of aging populations. Citizens over 60 years of age must have access to social and health services to ensure their physical and mental well-being, the United Nations said today, marking World Mental Health Day.


U.N. Panel Urges International Action on North Korean Human Rights Abuses. The United Nations experts investigating human rights conditions in North Korea said Tuesday that the “shocking” evidence they had collected from defectors and others suggested “large-scale” patterns of abuse that demanded an international response.

A Tie to Mental Illness in the Violence Behind Bars. The most violent prisons in the Texas state system share a common factor: they house a high proportion of mentally ill inmates.

AUGUST 2013 

Basic Rights of Mentally Ill ‘Violated”. The basic rights of some mental health patients in England are being “violated” because of a shortage of beds in psychiatric units, MPs say.

Local Research Essential to Universal Health Coverage, UN Agency Reports. The United Nations health agency today called on countries to continue investing in local research as a step towards developing a system of universal and affordable health coverage.

JULY 2013

Malala Yousafzai addresses United Nations Youth Assembly On her 16th birthday, a young Pakistani schoolgirl made history in New York. Malala Yousafzai, the brave young girl shot and nearly killed by the Taliban, delivered a speech at UN headquarters. 

JUNE 2013

More than 1,000 people killed in May Iraq violence: UN Unrest increased throughout Iraq as Sunnis protested, resulting to deaths and more than 2,000 wounded. 

MAY 2013  

Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović acquitted of all charges The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia’s Trial Chamber released two Serbian men who worked in the Serbian security service due to lack of evidence and criminal intent. They were accused for participating in a joint criminal enterprise. 

Nawaz Sharif condemns US drone strikes The new Prime Minister of Pakistan condemns U.S drone strikes and states they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and the UN charter. The Parliament will be making a policy against drone attacks in Pakistan. 

South Africa: Police repeatedly turn on asylum-seekers amid xenophobia spike Amnesty International said South Africa should stop violence against asylum seekers as the police used pepper spray and stun grenades on people renewing their permits in Cape Town. 

APRIL 2013

‘There are no human rights in Sri Lanka’ Journalists, activists, lawyers who spoke out against the Sri Lankan government have disappeared as the government tries to control the public opinion, violating human rights. 

Japan executions show ‘chilling’ escalation in death penalty use Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has now executed five people since taking office in December 2012

USA: Authorities must end indefinite detention in Guantánamo as hunger strike grows
 As more than half the detainees in Guantanamo Bay prisons seek hunger strikes, U.S must end indefinite detention said Amnesty International. 

MARCH 2013 

Human Rights Watch Report on Anti-Homosexulaity Law in Cameroon  The report presents 10 case studies of arrests and prosecutions under article 347 of Cameroon’s penal code, which punishes “sexual relations between persons of the same sex” with up to five years in prison.

As President Obama Signs Violence Against Women Act, Amnesty International Commends Activism That Pushed Protections and Safety For All Women On March 7th the VAWA legislation of 2013 was signed by President Obama. 

VAWA Act 2013  The American Congress came together on the 113th Session to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. 

South Sudan: End Widespread Child Marriage Gender inequality and child marriage has become a widespread issue globally. The South Sudan government is recommended to take action against the country’s striking statistics of almost half of Sudanese girls marrying reaching the age of 12 and 19. 

NA Adopts Anti-Terrorism Amendment Bill 2013  A wave of fear and protests have swept across Pakistan as constant terrorist attacks pile up dead bodies and casualties resulting from recent bombings. The National Assembly of Pakistan has taken action in creating an Anti-Terrorism Bill. However, the real challenge the government faces is to end the outcry of citizens experiencing this trauma and providing justice. 


Report of the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law- Sexual Violence Against Women India’s Verma Committee produced a report on violence against women with recommendations to tackle this global isssue. It was proposed after a gang raped and killed a 23 year-old woman in India. 

Justice Department Memo Reveals Legal Case for Drone Strikes on Americans A secretive memo from the Justice Department, provided to NBC News, provides new information about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s controversial policies. John Brennan, Obama’s nominee for CIA director, is expected to face tough questions about drone strikes on Thursday when he appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Department of Justice White Paper- Drone Strikes on Americans  

Drowned in a Stream of Prescriptions A college student suicides after being on Adderall, a drug meant for patients diagnosed with A.D.H.D. It has widely attracted students, while serious psychological dangers and its addictive nature is undermined. 

UN Lauds New Tool Enabling Individual Complaints on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights A new protocol created by the UN will help citizens of countries all over the world to file complaints on the international level regarding human rights and atrocities, giving a voice to the “powerless”. 


Thousands Join Pakistan Cleric’s ‘Long March’ Thousands of civilians participate in a peaceful democratic long march to the capital of Pakistan in order to protect human rights, eliminate poverty, supremacy of constitution, rule of law, and end corruption.  

Independent UN Inquiry Urges Halt to Israeli Settlements in Occupied Palestinian
 Territory The magnitude of violations relating to Israel’s policies of dispossession, evictions, demolitions and displacements from land shows the widespread nature of these breaches of human rights. The motivation behind violence and intimidation against the Palestinians and their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands, allowing the settlements to expand. 

Russia’s Anti-Gay ‘Propaganda Law’ Assault on Freedom of Expression A new legislation by the Russian Parliament restricts human rights for LGBTI people and discriminates against them, while breaching international obligations.