Human Rights Court Sides with Girl who Traveled 500km for Abortion

Human Rights Court Sides with Girl who Traveled 500km for Abortion

By Madeline Schiesser
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

Strasbourg, France – The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a Polish rape victim, at the time 14 years of age, should have had access to an abortion.  The court further order Poland to pay the girl, known only as “P,” and her mother, 61,000 € (£49,000; $ 79,000) in compensation.

In Warsaw, Poland, a mother with her children passes a pro-life poster with the slogan ‘Right to be born for every child.’ (Photo Courtesy of BBC News)

In May 2008, when “P” was 14, she received a certificate from a local prosecutor in Lublin stating that her pregnancy was the result of the illegal act of rape.  Poland has one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, allowing pregnancy termination only in cases of illegal acts such as rape and incest, or if the life of the mother or fetus is at risk.

However, despite her mandated certification for a legal abortion, “P” was turned away at her local Lublin hospital, where a Roman Catholic priest attempted to sway her to continue her pregnancy, and hospital officials issued a press release stating they would not perform the abortion.

In Warsaw (~ 150km NW of Lublin), “P” was met by hospital staff afraid to terminate her pregnancy due to pressure from pro-life groups and the media.

According to court documents, “P” and her mother “fe[lt] manipulated and helpless,” were harassed by pro-life groups, and were questioned by police.  A criminal case against “P” for illicit sexual relations was started by authorities, although eventually dropped.  The case against her alleged rapist was also dropped by authorities.  At one point, authorities accused “P’s” mother of forcing her daughter to have an abortion and had “P” temporarily placed in a juvenile shelter.

Eventually, “P” was able to get her legal abortion in Gdansk, Poland, 500km (300 mi) from home.

The Court found that the case presented two violations of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights: “the determination of access to lawful abortion” and “the disclosure of the applicants’ personal data”; a violation of Articles 5 and 1 outlining the right to liberty and security, and a violation of Article 3 prohibiting inhuman or degrading treatment.

Specifically, the Court held that “P” should have been unhindered in her attempt to get an abortion, and that the laws and medical staff she encountered created such a hindrance.  The Court noted “P’s” difficulties “in obtaining access to an abortion, in particular due to the lack of a clear legal framework, procrastination of medical staff and also as a result of harassment.”

Finally, the Judges ruled that “P” had been given “misleading and contradictory information and had not received objective medical counseling.”  They further stressed that those who tried to stop “P” from terminating her pregnancy with a press release were not excused for their behavior: “the fact that access to abortion was a subject of heated debate in Poland did not absolve the medical staff from their professional obligations regarding medical secrecy.”

The decision of the court is subject to further appeal.

Lastly, the court awarded “P” 30,000€ (£24,000; $39,000) in damages and her mother 15,000€ (£12,000; $19,500), plus legal costs, from the Polish state.

Although abortion laws in the staunchly Roman Catholic Poland are not likely to relax anytime soon, there is a chance that such will happen in the future.  Last month, legislation was proposed, although with very little chance of success, in the Polish Parliament that would have legalized abortions up to the 12th week of pregnancy.

“P” is also not the first person to successful challenge the Polish abortion system.  Famously, Alicja Tysiac won a case in 2007 when she was denied an abortion after eye doctors told her giving birth could make her go blind.

Today, Polish women continue to struggle through the legal abortion system, and many wanting abortions for illegal reasons go underground or out of the country.  These abortions are expensive, often costing a month’s salary.  While the government claims that on average 300 abortions are performed annually (against a population of 38 million), the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning estimates this number to be somewhere between 80,000 and 200,000, many of them illegal.

For further information, please see:

Huffington Post – Poland to Pay Compensation to Teen Rape Victim Over Abortion ‘Harassment’ – 31 October 2012

BBC News – Polish Rape Victim ‘Should have had Abortion Access’ – 30 October 2012

Chicago Tribune – Europe Rights Court Condemns Poland in Abortion Rape Case – 30 October 2012

GlobalPost – Polish Teen Should have had Access to Abortion After Rape, Court Rules – 30 October 2012

Poliske Radio – Poland Must Compensate Teenage Rape Victim Denied Abortion – 30 October 2012

Christian Science Monitor – Staunchly Catholic Poland Takes a New Look at Easing Abortion Laws – 13 September 2012

Syria Revolution Digest – Tuesday 30 October 2012

Too Little Too Late!

It is said that the U.S. is behind a new initiative to form a transitional government for Syria. American officials, we are told, are doing all they can to ensure inclusivity and adequate representation of all major communities and political groups, including an attempt to bring in as many representatives of the internal opposition as possible. But by now, the fragmentation of Syria is a done deal, warlordism is all the rage, and any national government will have to act as a government-in-exile for years to come. The old political class in Syria has become largely irrelevant to the processes unfolding in the country.

Tuesday October 30, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 163. The Breakdown: Toll includes 13 children and 7 women: 72 in Damascus and Suburbs, 50 in Idlib (most in the shelling of Maaret Al-Nouman and dozens in Saraqeb and Kafar Batekh), 13 in Aleppo, 12 in Homs, 7 in Daraa, 5 in Hama, 2 in Deir Ezzor and 2 in Lattakia (LCC).


Special Reports

The rebel hold on Maaret al-Numan has disrupted the regime’s ability to send supplies and reinforcements to Aleppo, where government forces have been bogged down since July in a bloody fight for control of Syria’s largest city. Rebel advances over the past week in Aleppo have added urgency to opening the route.

… over the last several months, according to U.S. officials and Syrian opposition figures, the State Department has worked to broaden its contacts inside the country, meeting with military commanders and representatives of local governance councils in a bid to bypass the fractious SNC… The new council is an attempt to change that dynamic. Dozens of Syrian leaders will meet in the Qatari capital, Doha, on Nov. 3 and hope to announce the new council as the legitimate representative of all the major Syrian opposition factions on Nov. 7, one day after the U.S. presidential election. The Obama administration sees the new council as a potential interim government that could negotiate with both the international community and the Syrian regime. The SNC will have a minority stake in the new body, but some opposition leaders are still skeptical that the effort will succeed.


Jacques Bérès, combat zone field surgeon; Mario Bettati, professor emeritus of international law; André Glucksmann, philosopher; Bernard Kouchner, former minister; Bernard-Henri Lévy, philosopher, director of the review “La Règle du jeu”, member of the supervisory board of “Le Monde”: Enough Evasion, We Must Intervene in Syria!

It is precisely when one judges, as we do, that the dictatorship of the Assads is deservedly doomed and Islamist fundamentalism constitutes a major danger for the country’s future that the duty to protect is imperative. And related to and as imperative as this duty to protect is the duty to ensure the security of all elements, all the constituant minorities of the Syrian people. What is at stake goes beyond the fate of Syria.

Ammar Abdulhamid & Khawla Yusuf: The Shredded Tapestry: The State of Syria Today

Video Highlights

The pounding of Damascene suburbs continue: Hamouriyeh MiGs take part in the pounding , the wounded , Kafar Batna , Ain Terma Harastapulling the dead rom under the rubble , ,  Buildings catch fire Rescuing the wounded Arbeen tanks take part in the pounding  And MiGs Doumaimpact of pounding MiGs take part in the pounding

Maraat Al-Nouman, Idlib Province, is pounded by TNT barrels ,

In an attempt to halt rebel advances in northern Lattakia, helicopter gunships are now taking part in the pounding of restive communities, including the town ofSalma ,

Vietnam Jails Two Songwriters

By Karen Diep
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

HANOI, Vietnam – Yesterday, two Vietnamese songwriters underwent a 5-hour trial at Ho Chi Minh City’s People’s Court for their alleged anti-government songs violating Article 88 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code.  Tran Vu Anh Binh, facing six years in prison, and Vo Minh Tri, facing four years instead, were detained in late 2011.

Authorities disbanding anti-government protest. (Photo Courtesy of Ibtimes)

Vo Minh Tri’s song lyrics purportedly condemned a police intervention and suppression of anti-China activists.  The lyrics further addressed other social justice issues.

Meanwhile, other singers have performed Tran Vu Anh Binh’s songs, including one of which criticizing the government for arresting insurgents.

According to the Global Post, the two produced two songs, “Anh La Ai?” (“Who are You?”) and “NuocToi Dau?” (“Where is My Country?”).  Furthermore, the lyrics of “Where is My Country?” include the following lyrics: Where is your nationalism?; Why consciously take orders from China?; You will leave a mark to last a thousand years; Your hands will be stained with the blood of our people.”

E News Park Forest reported that yesterday Amnesty International stated that the songwriters “should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

“This is a ludicrous way to treat people just for writing songs,” said Amnesty’s researcher in Vietnam, Rupert Abbott.  “These men are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression through their songs and non-violent activities, and should be freed.”

Weeks prior to Tran Vu Anh Binh and Vo Minh Tri’s prison sentences, three Vietnamese bloggers were accused of disseminating anti-government propaganda and subsequently jailed for four to 12 years.

“There is a very disturbing trend of repression against those who peacefully voice opinions the Vietnamese authorities do not like,” continued Mr. Abbott.

On October 14th, the police in Ho Chi Minh City arrested university student Nguyen Phuong Uyen and three other students.  Nguyen Phuong Uyen allegedly participated in the circulation of leaflets censuring China and the Vietnam over their territorial dispute.  Although the others were released, Nguyen Phuong Uyen remains detained.

“Rather than trying to silence the young people of Viet Nam, the Vietnamese authorities should allow them to express their opinions and have a say in the development and direction of their country,” shared Mr. Abbott.

According to BBC’s South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head, Vietnam’s Communist Party is currently experiencing factional splits over mismanagement, fraud, and unstable economy.  Therefore, it is not welcoming to criticism.

For further information, please see:

Bangkok Post – Vietnam jails songwriters – 30 Oct. 2012

BBC – Vietnam jails two dissident songwriters – 30 Oct. 2012

Global Post – Viet Khang and Tran Vu Anh Binh, musicians, jailed in Vietnam for anti-government songs – 30 Oct. 2012

E News Park Forest – Viet Nam: Acquit Songwriters Who Face 20 Years In Jail – 29 Oct. 2012



Bahrain’s Temporary ban on Protests Criticized

By Ali Al-Bassam
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

MANAMA, Bahrain — Last Tuesday, Bahrain imposed a temporary ban on all protests and gatherings.  Interior Minister Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa said that the ban was established to ensure public safety and prevent violence.  Al-Khalifa also said that the ban was necessary since violence that accompanied previous protests, disrupted traffic, affected trade and the economy, and damaged private property.

Bahrain says that its temporary ban on protesting is a safety measure. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters).

During his press conference, Al-Khalifa mentioned Omran Mohammed Ahmed, a 19 year old police officer, who was killed in an explosion in Al-Eker village when his patrol was attacked by rioters.  “Citizens of any country in the world will understand the necessity of implementing security measures to control, but not close, the entrances to the village in order to conduct a thorough investigation into Omran’s death,” he said.

Amnesty International says that the ban on all rallies violates the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and must be lifted immediately.  Al-Khalifa says that no one’s right is violated as long as they comply with the limits prescribed in the ban. Amnesty International reports that within the last few months, scores of people have been arrested for “illegal gatherings,” where prisoners of conscience were jailed solely for exercising their right to peaceful assembly.

“Even in the event of sporadic or isolated violence once an assembly is underway, authorities cannot simply declare a blanket ban on all protetsts…” said Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Wefaq, Bahrain’s leading Shia opposition party, believes that the ban is an attempt to silence it.  “We reject this decision and consider it against our constitutional right.  There is no reason for it because all our events are peaceful,” said Wefaq official Sayed Hadi Al-Mousawi.  Al-Mousawi also said that he believes the ban goes against international human rights.  Bahrain banned many protests organized by Wefaq in the past few months.

Al-Khalifa also said that the ban is justifiable since organizers have failed to keep protesters from engaging in violence.  He believes that a temporary ban is an “opportunity for everyone to take a step back, calm down and gain some perspective.”

Prior to the ban, organizers had to go through a process to gain consent to hold a demonstration.  Bahrain’s Code on Public Meetings, Processions and Gatherings imposes significant restrictions, and is in breach under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  The code requires that at least 3 organizers with a clean police record must apply for permission, specifying their activity and its subject, and the venue and time.  Organizers must be residents of the area where the activity will take place.  If permission is not granted then the activity is considered illegal.  Several rallies were banned this year due to the location and timings of the rallies since they could have potentially disturbed traffic.

For further information, please see:

Al Jazeera — Bahrain bans Protests and Gatherings — 31 October 2012

Amnesty International — Bahrain’s Protests ban Condemned — 31 October 2012

Bahrain News Agency — Ban on Marches and Rallies is Temporary, Interior Minister says — 31 October 2012

Reuters — Bahrain Must Lift ban on all Protests — 31 October 2012

Mayor Offers $120,000 for a Fugitive’s Head on Ice

By Irving Feng
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

DAVAO CITY, The Philippines – Vice mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, of Davao City has offered a 5 million pesos ($121,000) reward for the capture, execution and delivery of a known fugitive’s head.


Duterte addressing the public on Yu. (Photo Courtesy of NY Daily News)

The fugitive in question is Ryan Yu, the leader of a local car theft ring.  Duterte has offered the public two million pesos ($48,400) for Yu’s capture, four million pesos ($96,800) if he is killed, and an additional 1 million pesos ($24,200), on top of the aforementioned reward, if Yu’s head is literally delivered on ice.

Duterte has a reputation for being tough on crime and has been previously associated with death squads.  These death squads were responsible for the executions of over 200 suspected criminals during Duterte’s previous mayoral term from 2004 to 2009.  The executions included a number of minors as well.

Human Rights Commission (HRC) chairman Loretta Ann Rosales has criticized Duterte’s actions declaring that he has violated the law by ordering the extrajudicial killing of Yu.  Rosales claims that Duterte is depriving Yu of proper due process, and despite Yu’s alleged crimes and links to the car theft ring, enjoys certain rights under the law.

Duterte responded to the allegations by calling for Rosales to show him the specific laws that he has violated by ordering the capture of a known fugitive.  Duterte claims that there is nothing illegal about using the police and government to sanction the capture of a dangerous criminal linked to a local carjacking gang.

Ronald de la Rosa, the local Davao police chief, says his office was flooded with calls and messages from people asking if the reward offer was legitimate.  Rosa assured that the reward was very real, and Duterte says that the funds for the reward will be paid out from his political campaign contributions.

Rosa conveyed that Yu and his gang were responsible for more than 40 stolen vehicles which were stashed in a local warehouse.  The discovery of the stolen vehicles prompted Duterte’s call for Yu’s head.  Duterte and Rosa have conveyed that the offer is to expedite the capture of a very dangerous criminal who could be armed with automatic weapons.

The reward is to facilitate Yu’s capture; however, it is also incentive for a fairly dangerous endeavor.  Duterte says that those who go after Yu need to know that Yu will most likely be armed and incredibly difficult to capture.  Because Yu will not come into custody peacefully, it may be possible that Yu must be killed in order for him to be incapacitated.

For further information, please see:

Philippine Daily Inquirer – Don’t castrate gov’t, Duterte tells CHR chief – 29 October 2012

Philippine Star – Duterte mulls raising bounty for car theft ring leader to P6 million – 29 October 2012

Davao Sun Star – Duterte to Human rights commission head: Show me the law I violated – 29 October 2012

NY Daily News – Mayor in the Philippines offers $121,000 reward for decapitated head – 26 October 2012