Palestinian Village Sues Two Canadian Companies over Israeli Settlements; Human Rights Groups Call on Iran to End Juvenile Executions; HRW Report on Saudi Abuse of Migrant Workers

By Laura Zuber
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Middle East

MONTREAL, Canada – On July 9, the West Bank village of Bil’in filed suit against two Canadian companies involved in the construction of a neighborhood in the Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit.  The claim was filed in Superior Court in Montreal, Canada, against Green Park International and Green Mount International.  According to the village’s attorney, Michael Sfard, this is the first time that a private company has been sued for investing in settlements.

According to the residents, the neighborhood is being built on Bil’in lands.  The claim asks the Canadian court to order a halt to all construction, the demolition of all the homes the companies have built in Modiin Illit, and nearly $2 million in punitive damages.

The claim states that the construction companies are violating Canadian law.  Canada has adopted the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which determines that a nation transferring its civilian population into occupied territory constitutes a war crime.

“My understanding is that it will serve as a blinking red light for any investors and corporations that are considering doing anything in the settlements,” Sfard said.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Firms Sued for Israeli Settlements – 11 July 2008

Associated Press – Village Sues Builders of Israeli Settlements – 10 July 2008

BBC – Canadian Settlement Builders Sued – 10 July 2008

Yedoith – Bil’in Residents to Sue Canadian Construction Companies – 10 July 2008


TEHRAN, Iran – On July 8, Human Rights Watch, along with 23 other human rights groups issued a joint statement to the Iranian government, urging them to end their practice of executing juvenile offenders, those who were under the age of 18 when they committed the crime.  “Iran is violating international law every time it executes a juvenile offender whether or not the individual has reached 18 at the time of his or her execution,” read the joint statement.

Iran is a member state of both the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Both conventions prohibit the execution of juvenile offenders.  According to Human Rights Watch, Iran has executed at least 17 juvenile offenders since 2004; nearly eight times the amount of any other country. In addition, four juvenile offenders are scheduled to be executed this summer.

Two of those facing execution are Behnoud Shojaee and Mohammad Feda’i, due to be executed on Friday 11 July.  At least two other child offenders – Salah Taseb and Sa’eed Jazee – are also at risk of execution in the coming days.  All are convicted of murder.  Under Islamic law, the victim’s family can stop the execution by pardoning the perpetrator or by accepting compensation in lieu of execution.

For more information, please see:

Amnesty International – Iran: Call to Spare Lives of Four Child Offenders Facing Execution – 8 July 2008

Human Rights Watch – Iran: Spare Four Youths from Execution – 8 July 2008

International Herald Tribune – Human Rights Groups Call on Iran to End the Execution of Juveniles – 8 July 2008


NEW YORK, United States – On July 8, Human Rights Watch released a report titled, “’As If I Am Not Human’: Abuses Against Asian Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia.”  The report calls on Saudi Arabia to implement labor, immigration, and criminal justice reforms to protect domestic workers from serious human rights abuses that in some cases amount to slavery.  The report is based on two years of research, during which 142 interviews were conducted.

Currently, there are over 1.5 million domestic workers are employed in Saudi Arabia, primarily from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Nepal.  However, Saudi labor laws excludes domestic workers, denying them rights guaranteed to other workers, such as a weekly rest day and overtime pay.  Abuses include beating, starvation, and sexual violence.

Human Rights Watch said that abused workers are more likely to face counter-charges such as “witchcraft” and adultery rather than see their abusers brought to justice.

For more information, please see:

New York Times – Saudi Arabia: Worker Abuse Cited – 9 July 2008

AFP – Rights Group Condemns Saudi ‘Slave’ Treatment of Migrant Women – 8 July 2008

Human Rights Watch – Saudi Arabia: Domestic Workers Face Harsh Abuses – 8 July 2008

Jurist – Saudi Arabia Urged to Improve Domestic Worker Treatment – 8 July 2008

Author: Impunity Watch Archive