SOCIAL WATCH E-NEWSLETTER - Issue 38 - May 27, 2011

Issue 38 - May 27, 2011

South Korea: Top advisers at major law firms worked for the government

Strategy Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun
(Photo: University of Wisconsin)
More than half of the senior advisers at six major South Korean law firms are former bureaucrats with expertise in finance, warned this month the Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice (CCEJ, national focal point of Social Watch). That fact raises concerns over the influence they may peddle in the firms' dealings with the government.
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Chile: environmentalists take the streets
The government of president Sebastián Piñera dropped the charges of “disturbances” against Sara Larraín, director of the environmental NGO “Chile Sustentable” after a judge determined that her arrest was illegal.
Larraín, a former independent presidential candidate, was arrested mid May with other 63 demonstrators while they were participated in Santiago in a protest against the HidroAysen project, to build five dams on the Pascua and Baker rivers in the Chilean Patagonia.
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Tunisia will ratify international treaty against torture
The Tunisian transitional government will deposit this week the ratification documents for the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture at the United Nations in New York. A mission of experts of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), an international coalition of NGOs, made the announcement public this Monday, after visiting this North African country and meeting with representatives of the new authorities.
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Burma: The mockery of “amnesty”
The announcement on 16 May by Burmese dictator Thein Sein that all prisoners will receive a one-year sentence reduction is so woefully inadequate that it should be regarded as nothing but another attempt to present a façade of change while the regime continues to restrict fundamental freedoms and commit serious crimes against civilians, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma) and the Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC, national focal point of Social Watch) said this Monday.
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Bahrain: BHRS head to be accused by the regime
Bahraini government questioned Abdullah al-Durazi, who was heading the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), the oldest body tracking human rights abuses, when its board was disbanded last year. The authorities accused Al-Durazi of taking part in protests and disseminating false information, though no formal charges have been filed yet, reported the Financial Times on Thuesday.
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U.S. and Russia will keep smallpox viruses, but the destruction “is imminent”
The World Health Assembly decided on Tuesday in Geneva to keep, for now, the world's remaining smallpox virus samples, kept alive by U.S. and Russia, with the opposition of developing countries and civil society organisations headed by the Third World Network (TWN).
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Belgium: A platform to get rid of nuclear energy
Twenty-five years after the Chernobyl disaster, and when another tragedy is going on in Japan, the Belgian chapter of Greenpeace International, WWF, the Walloon Inter-Environmental Federation and Bond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL) launched the national platform "Stop & Go" that calls for the end of nuclear energy generation and claims for promoting renewable sources.
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Bankrupt Sovereigns
By Roberto Bissio
Lending money to the sovereign can be a risky business. In 1307 the King of France was in debt to the Knights of the Temple, warrior monks who did not just fought the Crusades but also funded them and in the process invented a system of traveler's checks collectable between Europe and the Holy Places. So big was the debt of Philip IV, that to get rid of it the king accused the Templars of heresy and sodomy, burned them at the stake by the thousands and confiscated their property.
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Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: the voice of Mother Earth
The first global UN inter-agency initiative to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples was launched on May 23 on the occasion of the 10th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The United Nations-Indigenous Peoples’ Partnership (UNIPP) initiative is a commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and calls for its full realization through the mobilization of financial cooperation and technical assistance.
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