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Critics urge repeal of Lebanon rape law

Lebanon rape law challengedIn what could prove a victory for women's rights activists in Lebanon, a parliamentary committee recently recommended striking down a law that allows rapists' sentences to be commuted if they marry their victim.

Although it is difficult to say how many women have been affected by the law, it is most likely to occur in situations where the victim knows her rapist - such as a cousin or neighbour - and the tight-knit community heaps pressure on her to accept the offer of marriage, said Roula Masri, a senior programme manager with the local gender-rights NGO, ABAAD.


2016: The year the world stopped caring about refugees

RefugeesThe number of refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean this year rose to an annual record.

More than 5,000 people lost their lives at sea as they took on perilous journeys to escape war, poverty, and persecution - often all three. In 2015, some 3,771 refugees died while crossing the Mediterranean, up from 3,279 deaths the year before.  In short, 2016 has not been an easy year.

A toddler was the first refugee to die in the Mediterranean in the deadliest January on record. In March the Balkan route was permanently shut, trapping tens of thousands of asylum seekers in Greece and slowing Aegean Sea crossings to a trickle.


Judge orders preservation of ‘torture report’

waterboardingA federal judge has ordered the government to preserve a Senate report documenting alleged abuse and mistreatment of detainees in CIA custody, potentially opening another avenue for the eventual declassification and public release of the unabridged report.

U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth issued the order Wednesday at the request of lawyers for Abd al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, who was subjected to waterboarding while in CIA custody and now faces military commission charges of involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.


Israel's other army expanding illegal settlements

Israel's civilian armyAbuses of power committed by Israel's Civilian Security Coordinators (CSCs), civilian guards of the illegal settlements, continue to contribute to settlement expansion into Palestinian-owned land across the occupied West Bank, according to an Israeli rights group.

In following the behaviour of the CSC guards over a decade, rights group Yesh Din has come across reports of guards doling out death threats and chasing Palestinian farmers from their fields at gunpoint to prevent them from harvesting, among other violations.


Israel's Jordan Valley regulation 'discriminatory

Discriminatory regulations for west bank workerIn the dingy office of a trade union building on the outskirts of Jericho, Ismael Abu Rahmeh, a Palestinian worker, unfolded a receipt from an Israeli court for 1,000 shekels ($260).

In early October, Abu Rahmeh paid the sum, a guarantee, after the Israeli labour court judge presiding over his case ordered him to cover the legal costs of his employer in the event that Abu Rahmeh lost the case. If the worker had not paid, the case that he had initially filed against his employer in 2015 would have been thrown out of court.


U.N. to send monitors to evaluate Aleppo evacuations after Security Council OK

Security Council okahs observers in AleppoThe United Nations will send monitors to evaluate evacuations form eastern Aleppo after the Security Council unanimously approved the plan Monday.

After hours of negotiations Sunday, Russia agreed to a resolution by France to stop "mass atrocities." Russia has veto power in the Security Council.

The resolution allows U.N. officials and others to monitor evacuations from eastern Aleppo and the safety of those who remain there.


Buses assigned to Syria evacuations attacked, deal stalls

Buses attacked, Aleppo deal stallsA delicately timed evacuation deal involving trapped civilians and fighters in war-ravaged east Aleppo and two Syrian villages was thrown into doubt Sunday when assailants torched six buses assigned to the operation.

The buses were to take part in the evacuation of over 2,000 wounded and sick Syrians from Foua and Kfarya, two rebel-besieged villages that have remained loyal to the government in an area under opposition control in the northwest Idlib province, activists and government media reported.


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