Bringing Human Rights Home: A Message From Amnesty USA Executive Director Steven W. Hawkins

I grew up in the shadow of Sing Sing prison in Ossining, New York. As a boy, I would walk by Sing Sing and hear the inmates talking, a stark and sobering reminder of the dashed dreams of the many men I knew growing up who ended up impoverished, incarcerated or killed. Young men like my childhood best friend, who is currently serving a life sentence.

For many activists who join the struggle for human rights, there is a transformative moment, which inspires a lifelong commitment to social advocacy. For me, that moment came inside the walls of Sing Sing prison.

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Why Executing the New Delhi Rapists Won’t Help the Women of India

Women call for the death penalty for the four men convicted of rape and murder today in New Delhi, India (Photo Credit: Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images).

Women call for the death penalty for the four men convicted of rape and murder today in New Delhi, India (Photo Credit: Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images).

By Tara Rao, Director of Amnesty International India

Today, a New Delhi court found four Indian men guilty of a December 2012 gang-rape and murder and sentenced them to death. A 17-year old convicted in the same case was sentenced to three years detention in a juvenile home on August 31. Another accused was found dead in his prison cell in March.

The rape and murder of the young woman in Delhi last year was a horrific crime and our deepest sympathy goes out to the victim’s family. Those responsible must be punished, but the death penalty is never the answer.

Far-reaching procedural and institutional reform, and not the death penalty, is needed to tackle the endemic problem of violence against women in India.

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Have You Seen What’s Happening to Syrian Refugee Women and Girls?

By Maha Abu Shama, Syria Campaigner at Amnesty International

“We have no women for marriage” is Khawlah’s usual response when Jordanian or other foreign men ask about marrying her 14-year-old daughter when they come looking for a bride.

Like other Syrian women refugees I met during a recent visit to Jordan, Khawlah complained how Jordanian men constantly bombard her with marriage proposals or requests to arrange marriages with refugee girls.

“I do not have work for you, but could marry you if you like,” is what ‘Aisha was told when she went looking for work. A 22-year-old student of English Literature, she complained that one of the reasons her job search in the Jordanian capital of Amman has been futile so far is that she often receives marriage proposals instead of paid work.

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Hudbay Minerals Loses Ruling Over Subsidiary’s Human Rights Violations

Angelica Choc during a press conference announcing a legal suit against Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals for the murder of her husband Adolfo Ich (pictured) in Guatemala City (Photo Credit: James Rodriguez, mimundo.org).

Angelica Choc during a press conference announcing a legal suit against Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals for the murder of her husband Adolfo Ich (pictured) in Guatemala City (Photo Credit: James Rodriguez, mimundo.org).

A legal ruling in Canada this week that featured Amnesty International Canada as an official intervenor offered a new path for victims of human rights abuses to seek redress against corporations where they are headquartered, even if the acts in question were both committed by a subsidiary of a corporation and took place in another country.

The Globe and Mail article, “After HudBay ruling, Canadian firms on notice over human rights,” points to the potential impact the ruling could have on corporate earnings and responsibilities of directors and investors.

Despite the Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals claiming no responsibility for their subsidiary, Ontario Superior Court ruled on July 22nd that claims against the company’s security personnel for gang rapes and murder of an indigenous leader critical of mining practices in Guatemala can proceed to trial.

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Protesting the Regression to Repression in Russia

Policemen detain an opposition supporter taking part in a picketing calling for the release of the two jailed members the Pussy Riot (Photo Credit: Evgeny Feldman/AFP/Getty Images).

Policemen detain an opposition supporter taking part in a picketing calling for the release of the two jailed members the Pussy Riot (Photo Credit: Evgeny Feldman/AFP/Getty Images).

This blog originally appeared on Fem 2.0

A lot has changed in Russia since I visited Moscow in 1985.

It was an exciting time for citizens of the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev had just taken over as the General Secretary of the Communist Party and introduced “Glasnost” or openness to a people who had for years lived under the dictates of a repressive government. Glasnost started a transformation in Soviet society and awoke long dormant aspirations of cultural, civil, and political freedoms.

The ensuing three decades were turbulent to say the least, but resulted in Russians enjoying and exercising greater freedoms, including the key ability to have a say in their own governance.

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When Will Russia and the Former Soviet Union Stop Instituting Homophobic Policies?

Gay rights activists march in St. Petersburg (Photo Credit: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images).

Gay rights activists march in St. Petersburg (Photo Credit: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images).

The upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia has been controversial for a while, compliments of host country’s president Vladimir Putin.

His homophobic policies have lead to widespread boycott calls, but have not sparked official outrage in the former Soviet Union.

On the contrary. This week, Armenia’s state police posted online a legislative proposal to fine up to $4,000 for promoting “non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors. It swiftly took down the proposal from the website after some protest, citing lack of priority and shortcomings. The police credited “several dozen intellectuals” for prompting the legislation in the first place.

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