Pakistani activists are disappearing at an alarming rate, and have been for years.
Since the beginning of this year, five activists have been reported missing in the country. These include professor and poet, Salman Haider, who was very critical of the state’s policies and active online political commentators Ahmed Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed and Ahmed Razar Naseer.
Pakistan ranked at 147 in 2016’s World Press Freedom Index and was also classified as “not free” in Freedom House’s 2016 Freedom of the Press rankings.
Pakistani activists allege thousands of people have been “disappeared” by the state, with some being killed in custody.
In December 2016, Pakistan’s Commission on Enforced Disappearances reported that the remains of 936 missing persons had been found in the Balochistan province alone since 2011. The government denies any wrongdoing.
The activists and citizens calling for the release and recovery of the missing activists are often accused of blasphemy by the government — a crime punishable by death from either the judiciary or far-right vigilantes. Many families do not report their loved ones missing to avoid being labelled anti-state and anti-religion.
The United States of America
The United States Supreme Court has begun the process of reviewing a case put forward by six Muslim men who were illegally detained in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
In the weeks following the 9/11 attacks, the FBI received almost 100,000 tips from the public regarding the attacks. Protocol at the time dictated if an FBI agent encountered a “Muslim or Arab man” who was in the country after unlawful entry or had an expired visa whilst investigating one of the tips, the man was to be arrested for immigration violation.
Under the “hold-until-cleared” policy, 762 men were detained in custody until the FBI ‘cleared’ them of any connections to terrorism.
In their statements to the court, the six men recounted how they were held in “small isolation cells for up to 23 hours at a stretch and subjected to mental and physical abuse.” They were in detention for three to eight months.
The ruling on whether the men have a right to sue top US officials such as the FBI director at the time, Robert Mueller, is expected to be delivered in June this year.
A 32-year-old mother living in a town near Sao Paolo, Brazil, has confessed to stabbing her 17-year-old son to death because of his sexuality.
Itaberli Lozano’s body was found a week after his murder. He had be burned and buried in a cane field.
In her original confession, Tatiana Lozano Pereira claimed she stabbed Lozano to death in self-defence after he threatened her, her husband and their three-year-old son. However, her story quickly changed after authorities discovered Lozano had recently reported her to local police. Furthermore on December 26—three days before he died—he posted a message on Facebook, accusing her of hiring several boys to assault him.
Two teenagers were also arrested in connection with Lozano’s death. They both claim it was Pereira who stabbed her son to death in the end, because she thought it was better to end his life.
More than 40 per cent of Syrian child refugees residing in Turkey are not receiving education.
A statement released by UNICEF on the 19th of January stated, “unless more resources are provided, there is still a very real risk of a ‘lost generation’ of Syrian children, deprived of the skills they will one day need to rebuild their country.”
In a report issued to the Security Council, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed alarm at the reports of child soldiers being used in the conflict. Children as young as nine were reportedly being taught how to use weapons and were often sent to the frontlines. They were also used to transport explosives and ammunition, perform domestic chores or were made to work as spies.
Some of the children had been tricked into engaging in the conflict after being approached with the promise of jobs and education opportunities. Teachers too were often coerced into enlisting students to fight in the conflict.
While Al-Shabab accounted for recruiting 70 per cent of child soldiers, the Somalia army has been accused of recruiting the remaining 30 per cent of children as “spies, checkpoint guards and bodyguards.”
Al-Shabab has also executed children they suspect of spying for the army or the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.
In his report, Guteress said he was “deeply troubled by the scale and nature of grave violations against children in Somalia and their increase since 2015.”
He has also urged both parties in the conflict to stop recruiting children and to abide by international humanitarian and human rights law.