US State Department watered down annual report on human trafficking
In the weeks leading up to a critical annual US report on human trafficking that publicly shames the world’s worst offenders, human rights experts at the State Department concluded that trafficking conditions hadn’t improved in Malaysia and Cuba. And in China, they found, things had grown worse.
The State Department’s senior political staff saw it differently – and they prevailed.
Interviews with more than a dozen sources in Washington and foreign capitals, shows that the government office set up to independently grade global efforts to fight human trafficking was repeatedly overruled by senior American diplomats and pressured into inflating assessments of 14 strategically important countries in this year’s Trafficking in Persons report.
Attacks on Activists
Burundian Rights Activist Survives Assassination Attempt
Bujumbura (Burundi) (AFP) – The attempted killing of a leading rights activist, shot in the face by a gunman, triggered international outrage on Tuesday and stoked fears of worsening violence in Burundi.
Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, who publicly opposed President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term last month, was shot on his way home from work in the capital on Monday by a gunman on a motorbike.
“His condition is stable, and has even slightly improved,” a family member said on Tuesday.
Mexican Activist Searching for Students Found Dead
ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Miguel Angel Jimenez, a political activist who played a prominent early role in the search for 43 students and other missing people in southern Mexico, was slain over the weekend, an associate said Monday.
The bullet-ridden body of Jimenez, a member of the Union of Towns and Organizations, or UPOEG for its initials in Spanish, was found in a car near a town where he had helped found a community police program.
UPOEG leader Bruno Placido confirmed the death and said Jimenez had received threats related to his search efforts.
Jimenez began organizing searches for 43 teachers’ college students who went missing after they were detained by police last September in Guerrero state.
Sudan Accused of War Crimes
Amnesty International said on Tuesday that the Sudanese army had committed war crimes in the conflict-hit South Kordofan region, including bombing and shelling civilian areas and infrastructure.
Government forces have been facing a rebellion in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North since 2011.
“Sudanese Armed Forces have been raining down bombs and shells indiscriminately on civilian populations, destroying lives and livelihoods and triggering a major humanitarian crisis,” Amnesty’s Deputy Regional Director Michelle Kagari said in a statement.
The rights watchdog said a team of its researchers had visited rebel-occupied parts of South Kordofan in May, where they found evidence that government forces had used cluster munitions and targeted civilian buildings, including schools and medical facilities.