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Thailand in 2016: Restoring Democracy or Reversing it?

18-04-2016

After staging a military coup against the Yingluck Shinawatra government, a junta has been ruling Thailand since 22 May 2014. It has drastically restricted political activities and freedom of speech. There have been numerous human rights abuses, including torture. Under a ‘roadmap to democracy’, a referendum on a new constitution is planned for August 2017 and could be followed by elections at a later stage. However, the military might retain power until the king’s successor accedes to the throne ...

After staging a military coup against the Yingluck Shinawatra government, a junta has been ruling Thailand since 22 May 2014. It has drastically restricted political activities and freedom of speech. There have been numerous human rights abuses, including torture. Under a ‘roadmap to democracy’, a referendum on a new constitution is planned for August 2017 and could be followed by elections at a later stage. However, the military might retain power until the king’s successor accedes to the throne, in order to guarantee stability. Despite close trade ties, the EU has suspended the signing of a partnership and cooperation agreement and negotiations on a free trade agreement until democracy is restored. In April 2015, Thailand received a ‘yellow card’ warning by the European Commission for problems relating to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea): Kim Jong-un Softens his Punch

06-11-2014

Kim Jong-un became the third leader in North Korea’s history, after succeeding his father Kim Jong-il, who died in December 2011. The succession took place smoothly and the new leader follows his predecessor's repressive political line and insists on the development of a nuclear and space programme in an effort to reinforce the country's international position and secure external aid. Pyongyang succeeded in both launching an intercontinental rocket in December 2012 and testing its third nuclear ...

Kim Jong-un became the third leader in North Korea’s history, after succeeding his father Kim Jong-il, who died in December 2011. The succession took place smoothly and the new leader follows his predecessor's repressive political line and insists on the development of a nuclear and space programme in an effort to reinforce the country's international position and secure external aid. Pyongyang succeeded in both launching an intercontinental rocket in December 2012 and testing its third nuclear bomb in February 2013. This caused an international outcry and resulted in more UN sanctions against the DPRK regime. The situation was normalised after China imposed severe limitations to bilateral trade and financial transactions. Since last year North Korea has softened its tone, even launching a ‘charm offensive’ to appease its opponents. Two decades after the great famine that killed more than one million people, agricultural production hardly covers the population's nutritional needs. North Korea depends mainly on aid granted by China and some other donors for its survival. The country is also one of the most repressive in the world and holds a very poor human rights record.

Human Rights Protection Mechanisms in Africa: Strong Potential, Weak Capacity

04-02-2013

The African Union (AU) has three principal mechanisms for protecting human rights on the continent: a Charter, a Commission and a Court all devoted to Human and Peoples' Rights. These are complemented by other specific instruments, by the work of the AU institutions and by various international and national laws. Despite this complex web, human rights are still violated in numerous African countries. The reasons stem from the fact that many legal instruments have not been ratified, that the human ...

The African Union (AU) has three principal mechanisms for protecting human rights on the continent: a Charter, a Commission and a Court all devoted to Human and Peoples' Rights. These are complemented by other specific instruments, by the work of the AU institutions and by various international and national laws. Despite this complex web, human rights are still violated in numerous African countries. The reasons stem from the fact that many legal instruments have not been ratified, that the human rights system suffers from weak capacity and — crucially — that many AU member states lack the political will to improve the situation. Human rights are an important element of AU–EU relations in the framework of the bi-regional Joint Strategy (JAES), although the results of this partnership have so far been disappointing. The new AU Commission, elected in 2012, may be more ready to engage on a substantive dialogue on the matter. The change presents an important opportunity to deepen the dialogue on dedicated human rights forums and to emphasise human rights as an essential element of common AU–EU approaches to other areas, such as development or peace and security in Africa.

The Death Penalty in the Middle East and North Africa

04-12-2012

The abolition of capital punishment is a key objective for the European Union’s human rights policy. While a handful of countries in the region no longer apply capital punishment, all retain the death penalty on their books. None of the MENA Countries has signed the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which aims to abolish the death penalty. In most countries in the MENA region, the legal system is mainly based primarily on Shari'a. Unsurprisingly, Israel's legal system has different sources. ...

The abolition of capital punishment is a key objective for the European Union’s human rights policy. While a handful of countries in the region no longer apply capital punishment, all retain the death penalty on their books. None of the MENA Countries has signed the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which aims to abolish the death penalty. In most countries in the MENA region, the legal system is mainly based primarily on Shari'a. Unsurprisingly, Israel's legal system has different sources. In criminal law determined by Shari'a, most crimes classified as Hudud are punishable by death, because they represent a threat for Islam. In 2012, Iran confirmed its lead position in the region with two executions per day. Despite its international obligations, Iran continues to execute juvenile prisoners. Iraq executed more than 62 people In 2011, and more than 102 in the first nine months of 2012. The number of executions per capita in Gaza is the highest in the region. Apostasy and sorcery are among the crimes punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. In Yemen, more than 29 people have been executed in 2012. The UN launched three moratoria on the use of the death penalty between 2007 and 2011. The European Union's campaign against capital punishment aims at persuading its partner countries to abolish death penalty, through political dialogue. In the 2007-2010 period, the EU allocated EUR 8 million to 21 projects worldwide, 4 of which were in the MENA region. The indicative budget for 2011-2013 is EUR 7 million.

Human Rights in North Korea

17-09-2012

The human rights record in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) has been widely condemned by the international community, including by the EU and the European Parliament. The ascension of the latest ruler of the Kim dynasty, Kim Jong-un, in December 2011 has not brought tangible change. Since the country is practically closed to foreigners, the human rights situation can only be evaluated based on the testimonies of refugees and defectors. Their reports consistently reveal ...

The human rights record in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) has been widely condemned by the international community, including by the EU and the European Parliament. The ascension of the latest ruler of the Kim dynasty, Kim Jong-un, in December 2011 has not brought tangible change. Since the country is practically closed to foreigners, the human rights situation can only be evaluated based on the testimonies of refugees and defectors. Their reports consistently reveal blatant and unrepentant violations of human rights, which aim to elicit the total submission of the country's citizens to the regime and its ideology. While the majority of North Koreans suffer from permanent hunger, those who try to leave the country face harsh punishment upon repatriation. Citizens suspected of being disloyal to the regime and their families are placed, without trial, in prison camps with abhorrent conditions. North Korea is among the countries carrying out the highest numbers of executions in the world.

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