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  1. Workers in Qatar continue to be mistreated despite promises to improve rights ahead of the 2022 World Cup, Amnesty International says. A new report from the human rights group says thousands of workers are going unpaid. It adds that a new commission set up to help improve workers' rights is failing to protect them. Amnesty has urged Qatari authorities to "end the shameful reality of labour exploitation". "Despite the significant promises of reform which Qatar has made ahead of the 2022 World Cup, it remains a playground for unscrupulous employers," said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International's deputy director of global issues. "Migrant workers often go to Qatar in the hope of giving their families a better life - instead many people return home penniless after spending months chasing their wages, with too little help from the systems that are supposed to protect them."
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    Qatar has imported hundreds of thousands of construction workers for the 2022 World Cup, with seven new stadiums being constructed specifically for the tournament
  2. After the Nicaraguan Government announced that it has asked two key human rights institutions to leave the country, the UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, said on Friday that she was “extremely alarmed” by a decision that means, in effect, there will be “no functioning independent human rights bodies left in Nicaragua”. According to High Commissioner Bachelet, the two non-profit human rights organisations were set up by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR), “in full cooperation with the Government after the violence and unrest earlier this year”. One of them is MESENI, a follow-up mechanism from IACHR set up specifically for Nicaragua, and the other is known as GIEI – the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts. “After the earlier cancellation of the registration and confiscation of properties of national NGOs working on human rights, the de facto expulsion of the two IACHR organizations means there are now virtually no functioning independent human rights bodies left in Nicaragua,” said Ms. Bachelet, who added that “the Government has said it will no longer accept visits by the IACHR itself”.
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  3. More than 200 Jehovah's Witnesses - a religious organization banned in Russia - have applied for asylum in Finland. More than 100 members of this organization have arrived in the European country only so far in 2018. According to Juha Simila, representative of the Finnish migration service, about 10 cases have been analyzed so far and, in most of them, Finland rejected the asylum application. Simila explained to the Finnish newspaper Aamulehti that some denials have been appealed to the court and that in one of the cases the negative decision of the migration service has already been confirmed. Read more:
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  4. via .ORGWorld News
  5. Rex Tillerson alongside Sergei Lavrov at the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bonn in February © Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images 11 Apr 2017 Reported abduction of 100 men in ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya and moves to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses are just latest in long line of abuses Though recent developments in Syria are set to dominate US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first official visit to Moscow this week, Amnesty International is calling on him to use the opportunity to highlight the dire human rights situation inside Russia. Secretary Tillerson is due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for talks later today and tomorrow. Amnesty pointed out that Russia has recently seen a disturbing new surge in political repression resulting from a raft of laws passed last year which further limit the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. More than 1,000 peaceful demonstrators were arrested in Moscow alone and hundreds were arrested in other cities on 26 March, following one of the largest protests held in Russia in recent years. Many protesters were fined by the courts or sentenced to several days of administrative detention. At least 14 journalists were arbitrarily detained during the rallies. Police also raided the offices of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, a civil society group, on the same day, and 12 staff members were later put behind bars by a court on spurious charges. At the end of last month, dozens of protesters were also jailed or fined by courts following a nationwide strike by Russian truck drivers. Meanwhile, according to credible sources, over a hundred purportedly gay men in Russia’s Chechnya region have been rounded up, detained, tortured and even murdered in an apparently coordinated purge-like operation. These alarming abductions and killings follow a similar pattern to enforced disappearances which have been documented in hundreds of cases over the years in Chechnya and other republics in Russia’s North Caucasus. Virtually none of these have been effectively investigated. More widely, many NGOs right across Russia which have been labelled as “foreign agents” have been facing harassment, and Valentina Cherevatenko, the founder and Chair of the Women of the Don Union, became the first person to be criminally prosecuted for violation of the “foreign agents law”. Meanwhile, following changes to the law last year banning any form of missionary activity outside of specially-designated places, the Ministry of Justice has requested that the national headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as all 395 of their regional organisations, should be declared an “extremist organisation” and shut down. Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow office, said: Mr Nikitin also voiced concern that Rex Tillerson may be unwilling to criticise Russia’s human rights record. He added:
  6. Tomorrow, human righs judges will announce their decision in a complaint against Georgia brought by 13 Jehova’s Witnesses. Tsartsidze and Others v. Georgia (no. 18766/04) The applicants are 13 Georgian nationals who are all Jehovah’s Witnesses. The case concerns alleged harassment of Jehovah’s witnesses in Georgia. The applicants submit that in 2000 and 2001 they had been the victims of various instances of intimidation and aggression towards Jehovah’s Witnesses either by Orthodox religious extremists or by the authorities, including the police. In five separate incidents some had been prevented from attending a religious meeting when stopped at a police checkpoint and others had had their religious meetings disrupted or had been stopped in the street by the police in possession of religious tracts; of those applicants some had been taken to police stations and had either been beaten or forced to sign a written undertaking not to hold any more gatherings in the future. All allege that religious equipment and literature had been confiscated or stolen from them, and in one case had subsequently been publicly burned. The events described by six of the applicants in two of the incidents have been examined in a case already brought to the European Court of Human rights (Begheluri and Others v. Georgia, application no. 28490/02). All the applicants lodged administrative complaints against the Ministry of the Interior, police officers allegedly involved either directly or indirectly (on account of their failure to intervene in the various incidents) and the local authorities, claiming compensation. Their complaints were all later dismissed, ultimately at the level of the Supreme Court, because the police’s or the authorities’ involvement in the incidents had not been proven. The applicants essentially complain about the religiously motivated violence to which they were subjected, alleging that it breached their right to freely practise their religion via meetings and the distribution of religious literature. They also complain about the courts’ subsequent failure to provide any redress, alleging in particular that the civil and administrative legal remedies in the face of allegedly state-tolerated religious violence in Georgia was inefficient and inadequate. They rely on Article 6 (right to a fair trial), Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion), Article 11 (freedom of association), Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination).
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  7. Authorities in Turkey breached European human rights law by refusing to provide the Mersin and İzmir Jehovah’s Witnesses with an appropriate place of worship. In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Association for Solidarity with Jehovah Witnesses and Others v. Turkey (applications nos. 36915/10 and 8606/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights As just satisfaction (Article 41), the court held that Turkey was to pay 1,000 euros (EUR) jointly to the applicants in application no. 36915/10 and EUR 1,000 to the applicant association in application no. 8606/13 in respect of nonpecuniary damage, and EUR 4,000 to the applicants jointly in respect of costs and expenses. On the basis of a law prohibiting the opening of places of worship on sites not designated for that purpose and imposing certain conditions on the building of places of worship, the private premises which the Mersin and İzmir congregations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses had been using were closed by the national authorities and their applications to use those premises as places of worship were rejected. The congregations were also informed that the local development plans comprised no sites which could be used as places of worship. The court found in particular that the congregations in question were unable to obtain an appropriate place in which to worship on a regular basis, which amounted to such a direct interference with their freedom of religion that it was neither proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued, that is to say the prevention of disorder, nor necessary in a democratic society. The court considered that the domestic court had taken no account of the specific needs of a small community of believers and noted that the impugned legislation made no mention of that type of need, whereas, given the small number of adherents, the congregations in question needed not a building with a specific architectural design but a simple meeting room in which to worship, meet and teach their beliefs. Source:
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