Photo by Salvatore Vuono
Photo by Salvatore Vuono

Here are a few of the human rights stories making news around the world that I find interesting.

1. Reparations could be a step closer for the indigenous Maya Achi community in Guatemala, three decades after hundreds were killed to clear the way for a dam to be built.

The Guardian reports that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank financed the construction of the dam and survivors have been calling for the institutions to pay reparations for years.

The fresh hope comes as US President Barack Obama prepares to sign a bill that will, among other things, instruct the World Bank and IDB to report on steps taken to implement the provisions of a 2010 reparations plan.

2. The UK government continues to declare that it will not obey a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that a blanket ban on allowing prisoners to vote was a human rights breach. The stand-off has led to the Justice Secretary announcing plans to curtail the role of the ECtHR in English law, and ensure the supremacy of Britain’s highest domestic court, the Supreme Court.

3. A UK House of Lords enquiry has heard that the human rights of mental health patients are being breached, as some judges are refusing to hear testimony from such patients, the Independent reports.

4. In one of the latest salvos in the war over judicial appointments in the United States, President Obama is being accused, in a case now before the Supreme Court, of violating the constitution in making recess judicial appointments.

5. A man from a Pacific island failed in his bid to acquire refugee status in New Zealand as the world first climate change refugee. The decision was made last November, but I report it here because it is novel and interesting, and you may have missed it.

There is useful comment on the case here.