Dozens of Kidnapped Children Freed in China

By Kevin M. Mathewson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BEIJING, China — Chinese police have rescued 92 abducted children and taken 301 suspected members of a trafficking network into custody. A breakdown of how many boys and how many girls were kidnapped, or their ages, was not reported. However, police found sleeping pills commonly used for babies during the investigation. The rescue is being called one of the biggest busts of its kind in years.

The freed children are being cared for by health and welfare workers. (Photo courtesy of Skynews)

On September 11, after a six month investigation, police simultaneously swooped into 11 different locations to free the children. No reason has been given for the delay in reporting the operation.

The freed children have been sent to hospitals for checkups and some of them have been sent to a children’s home in Zhengzou, Henan Province.

The trafficking of Chinese children and women has increased in recent years because of the strict Chinese one-child policy. There is a traditional preference for boys, especially in rural areas, resulting in an increase in sex-selective abortions.

Kidnapped women are sold to men in remote areas who are unable to find brides due to a sex imbalance resulting from the one-child policy. Some families even buy trafficked women and children to use as extra labor and household servants.

Child trafficking has become a serious problem in China. According to a report released by the China National Radio, about 200,000 children disappear in China each year. Of these, only 0.1% are found and freed from captivity.

Roughly 24,000 abducted women and children were freed in China last year.

The Chinese government has vowed to impose harsher punishments on people who buy kidnapped children. The government also said it would punish parents who sell their children.

On October 4 a U.N. committee is scheduled to issue its findings on China’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Beijing ratified in 1992.

For further information, please see:

BBC News – Chinese police rescue 92 abducted children – 28 September 2013

Reuters – China police rescue 92 kidnapped children: state media – 28 September 2013

The Guardian – Chinese police rescue 92 children from gang planning to sell them – 28 September 2013

Sky News – China: Dozens Of Kidnapped Children Freed – 28 September 2013

The Huffington Post – Chinese Police Free 92 Abducted Children In Rescue Operation – 28 September 2013

Magnitsky Sanctions Briefing in Swedish Parliament Cancelled as a Result of the Swedish Government’s Refusal to Grant William Browder Safe Passage

For Immediate Distribution

30 September 2013 – Briefings in the Swedish Parliament on the Magnitsky
justice campaign have been cancelled as a result of the Swedish
Government’s refusal to provide a safe passage guarantee to William
Browder, the leader of the campaign.

The briefings were scheduled to take place in Stockholm last week.

Mr Browder’s campaign seeks to impose visa and financial sanctions in
Sweden and across the EU on Russian officials responsible for the
Magnitsky’s false arrest, torture and killing in Russian police custody.
Such sanctions have been already imposed by the United States Government
under the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 passed by
the US Congress. Sergei Magnitsky was arrested after he blew the whistle on
the $230 million theft with the involvement of Russian officials. Some of
the same officials Sergei Magnitsky had implicated in his testimony, were
involved in his arrest.

The Russian authorities have responded angrily to Bill Browder’s campaign
for Magnitsky sanctions by convicting him in absentia along with late
Sergei Magnitsky himself in the first-ever posthumous trial in Russian
history. The Russian authorities have also opened a spurious criminal case
against Mr Browder alleging that he “stole” Gazprom shares and harmed
Russian economic security, justifying the case by a regulation that never
stipulated criminal liability and was repealed eight years ago.

Given the sentencing in absentia of Mr Browder to 9 years in prison by the
Russian authorities alongside with the posthumous prosecution of Sergei
Magnitsky, in advance of his visit to Sweden Mr Browder sought a formal
assurance that the Swedish government will not cooperate with Russian
requests to extradite Mr Browder on a Russian warrant and will not assist
with any other Russian requests.

In a surprising development, the Swedish Justice Ministry rejected Mr
Browder’s request and stated that “The Government or the Minister may not
intervene or give instructions in these cases.”

The Swedish refusal is in contrast to safe passage letters being issued by
the German government and the Dutch government earlier this year. It also
is contrary to the INTERPOL’s refusal to post worldwide search warrant
issued by the Russian Federation on 24 May 2013 for Mr Browder when
Interpol’s independent Commission for the Control of Files determined that
the Russian warrant should be refused because the case against Mr Browder
was of a “predominantly political nature”. Interpol’s General Secretariat
made a further announcement in July 2013 that Interpol cannot be used to
arrest Mr Browder.

Mr Browder was invited to come to Sweden by Swedish MP Mats Johansson. Mr
Johansson was also the author of a petition sent to the Swedish Prime
Minister on the Magnitsky Case in 2012
( calling for sanctions
against the Russian officials responsible for Sergei Magnitsky’s death. The
petition was co-signed by Olle Thorell, a foreign affairs spokesperson from
Social Democrats party, and Kerstin Lundgren, from the Centre Party. The
petition was supported by 59 Swedish MPs from 7 parties. The Swedish
Government has so far ignored this parliamentary call for Magnitsky

“The Swedish government has refused to sanction to people who killed Sergei
Magnitsky, but are effectively sanctioning me in my fight to get justice.
The perception that Sweden is a country that fights for human rights is
profoundly challenged in the way the Swedish government is dealing with the
Magnitsky case,” said William Browder.

“Sweden should be supporting human rights activists with a just cause, not
hindering them. We should not be giving in to Russian pressure when
fundamental human rights issues are at stake,” said Mats Johansson, MP.

Mr Johansson was also one of the initiators of the Magnitsky Declaration at
the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe two years ago, which
was supported by 53 deputies from 29 countries (
), calling upon the Russian government to cease the posthumous prosecution
of Mr Magnitsky and the intimidation of his family and to allow the family
access to his medical archive for an independent evaluation. Since then,
the Russian authorities prosecuted Mr Magnitsky posthumously, pressured his
relatives with summonses and questioning, and refused them access to his
medical archive.

For further information, please see:

Law and Order in Russia

Jesse Jackson Negotiating for Hostage’s Release From Colombia

By Brandon Cottrell
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States – Over the weekend, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the “FARC”) invited the Rev. Jesse Jackson to negotiate for the release of Kevin Scott Sutay, a former U.S. solider, who was captured by the FARC three months ago.  Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, however, does not want Jackson involved.  Despite that, Jackson intends to travel to Colombia this week to negotiate a cease-fire so that Sutay can be picked up from the FARC’s custody.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson hopes he can negotiate for Sutay’s release this coming week. (Photo Courtesy USA Today)

The FARC, a guerilla army comprised of 8,000 armed fighters and funded through drug trafficking and extortion, has been fighting against the Colombian government since the 1960’s.  While the FARC has repeatedly called for peace with the government, Santos has refused to stop the fighting.  Jackson, meanwhile, has said that “a lengthy pause in the fighting is not necessary for . . . to bring Kevin out” and hopes a one day cease-fire can be negotiated.

Sutay was captured in June as he hiked through the Colombian jungle, supposedly on his way to Brazil.  According to Jackson, the FARC “thought he was a terrorist or a spy” because he was in military attire and was carrying surveillance equipment.  After the FARC found out Sutay was not a terrorist or spy, they told Sutay he was free to leave.  However, due to the fighting in Colombia, there has not been a safe way to get Sutay out and he remains in custody.

Santos, meanwhile, does not want Jackson or any other public figure involved in the release of Sutay, stating, “We will not allow a media spectacle.”  Santos has, however, authorized the International Red Cross to facilitate Sutay’s release.  The Red Cross does not want to get involved right now and issued a statement that said it would facilitate the release “only once all sides agree on the details.”

The FARC has in the past, unilaterally freed more than a dozen prisoners of war as a goodwill gesture and in the hope that it will rally public support for its cause, which is social justice.  In a statement, the FARC hopes “instead of unjustly prolonging Scott’s stay in the jungle,” Santos will start planning for Sutay’s release.

The conflict between the FARC and the government has killed over 200,000 people and displaced millions of innocent victims from their homes, though a resolution is in the works as both sides have engaged in peace talks in the past year.


For more information, please see:

BBC – Jesse Jackson Continues FARC Mission Despite Colombia Refusal – 29 September 2013

CBS News – Jesse Jackson To Mediate For U.S. Captive In Colombia – 28 September 2013

USA Today – Jesse Jackson Hopeful FARC Will Free Captive Soldier – 29 September 2013

Wall Street Journal – Colombia’s Santos Won’t Authorize Jesse Jackson Role in Kidnap Case – 29 September 2013

50 protesters sentenced in Bahrain

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan

Impunity Watch, Middle East

MANAMA, Bahrain – A Bahrain Court sentenced 50 people to between 5 and 15 years in prison on Sunday whom authorities accused of organizing an ant-government protest organization seeking to overthrow the government.

The February 14 movement has been organizing protests against the government since onset of the Arab spring in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera)

Sixteen of the accused were sentenced to 15 years in prison, four were sentenced to 10 years and the remaining 30 defendants were giving a five year sentence. Some of the accused protesters were convicted in absentia.

Several of the defendants were involved with the 14 February Coalition, a youth based organization in Bahrain. The 14 February Coalition has been involved in influencing and expanding the Shia-led campaign for more rights in Bahrain which began in 2011 as part of the Arab Spring. Many of the organizations protest have been organizes in majority Shia villages and neighbourhoods The Bahrain regime accuses the youth movement of terrorism.

Yousif al-Muhafda, an activist and member of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said that some of the defendants convicted by the court had told the judge preceding over the case that they had had confessed to the charges only after being tortured by authorities. He said that many of those convicted were activists involved with the 14 February movement, which has been organising protests against the Gulf State’s undemocratic and discriminatory policies against Shia Muslims since 2011. He also said the detainees included Naji Fateel, prominent a human rights activist who was sentenced to 15 years.

Muhafda argued that the government’s allegations that Fateel and other activist were engaged in an active conspiracy to attempt to overthrow the Bahraini ruling family was implausible and that all of the activities of these human rights groups were open to the public’ he said “They don’t do anything in secret — they work publicly.”

Al Wefaq, the state’s major Shia opposition   party, said Sunday was a “black day for justice” for Bahrain. Al Wefaq’s acting President Maryam Al-Khawaja said the court ruling was “a sham trial with a political verdict,” and called for the defendant’s to be released immediately,”

The court’s action, if confirmed, would appear to be part of a widening state effort to silence protests organized by members of Bahrain’s Shiite majority against the state’s Sunni monarchy, which has been accused of discriminating against the Shite majority.

The Gulf State has seen almost daily protests by members of the Shia Muslim majority since February 2011, when state authority’s brutally cracked down on a Shia-led uprising calling for the Bahraini royal family, the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty to give up its power over the state.

For more information please see:

ABC News – Activist: Bahrain Sentences 50 for Militant Links – 29 September 2013

Al Jazeera – Scores of activists imprisoned in Bahrain – 29 September 2013

The New York Times – Bahrain Dissidents Said to Get Prison Sentences – 29 September 2013

BBC News – Bahrain unrest: 50 Shia Muslims sentenced to up to 15 years – 30 September 2013


British Woman “White Widow” Wanted by Interpol for Last Week’s Kenyan Mall Attack

by Tony Iozzo
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

PARIS, France – Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Samantha Lewthwaite, for her possible connection to a terrorist attack on a Kenyan mall last week that resulted in 72 deaths.

Lewthwaite, 29, is wanted on conspiracy charges. (Photo courtesy of The Guardian)

Lewthwaite, a British citizen dubbed the “White Widow,” was already wanted for charges of explosion possession and conspiracy to commit a felony as a result of an incident in Kenya in 2011.

Kenyan authorities believe that Lewthwaite was connected to an additional plot to attack places of public accommodation- restaurants and hotels. They believe the “White Widow” rented several houses in Mombasa to use to assemble the explosives.

Kenya’s foreign minister has stated that Lewthwaite took part in last week’s mall siege with the Qaeda-linked terrorist group, al-Shabab. A British security source, however, has stated that “it is a possibility” that Lewthwaite was involved.

Lewthwaite was originally married to one of the suicide bombers involved in the attack on the London subway system in 2005, which left 52 people dead. Lewthwaite stated in September 2005 that her husband had fallen under the control of radical mosques. “How these people could have turned him and poisoned his mind is dreadful. He was an innocent, naive and simple man. I suppose he must have been an ideal candidate.”

Lewthwaite is believed to have been using the alias ‘Natalie Faye Webb’ for several years while living in South Africa. Kenyan police suspected Lewthwaite was working with Musa Hussein Abdi, killed with an Al Qaeda boss in Somalia in June 2011, in the alleged 2011 Kenya attack plot.

In December 2011, authorities tracked down a woman they thought to be Lewthwaite in Abdi’s house but let her go after she showed them a South African passport. Police later realized the passport was fake, and returned to the house, but she had left.

Lewthwaite, 29, converted to Islam in her teens and went on to study religion and politics at the School Of Oriental and African Studies in London. Local city councilor Raj Khan, who knew Lewthwaite’s relatives in Aylesbury, recalled her as “an average, British, young, ordinary girl.”

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Interpol Issues Warrant for UK Woman – 27 September 2013

Fox News – Interpol Issues Arrest Warrant for “White Widow” Eyed In Kenya Terrorist Attack – 26 September 2013

The Guardian – “White Widow”: Interpol Arrest Warrant Issued for Samantha Lewthwaite – 26 September 2013

Mirror News – White Widow Samantha Lewthwaite Becomes World’s Most Wanted Woman After Interpol Issues Arrest Warrant for British Terror Suspect – 26 September 2013