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A blog about human rights in their many forms.

Undocumented Central American minors not getting due process in US immigration cases

More than two-thirds of minors appearing in US immigration courts, most escaping violence in Central America, are not represented by an attorney.
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Undocumented immigrants on July 24, 2014 in Mission, Texas. Tens of thousands of immigrants, many of them minors, have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing a humanitarian crisis on the US-Mexico border. (John Moore/AFP/Getty Images)

In the United States, thousands of immigrants – many of them underage, mentally ill or otherwise vulnerable – risk deportation as they face the court system without legal counsel.

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Inside Bangladesh's garment industry, second largest in the world

The Tuba Group hunger strike is the latest worker pushback against an industry under repair.

Editor's Note: This is the second piece in a three-part series that goes inside Bangladesh's garment industry to explore how the Rana Plaza collapse served as a wake-up call to an entire global supply chain and how Bangladesh is working furiously to reform itself before another tragedy strikes. Read Part One here.

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US lawyers say movement to protect the unborn increasingly hurts mothers

At the American Bar Association's annual meeting, legal scholars said US women are losing rights as unborn children gain them.
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Lawyers Michele Goodwin (left), Farah Diaz-Tello and Brigitte Amiri discuss the implications of the Hobby Lobby decision and other legislation limiting women's rights at a panel during the American Bar Association annual meeting. The talk was held Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. (Jessica Mendoza/GlobalPost)

BOSTON – The legal battle over reproduction is increasingly focused on unborn children while criminalizing mothers, said to a panel of lawyers and women’s rights advocates who spoke at the American Bar Association’s (ABA) annual meeting Saturday.

“Women’s medical rights [are] treated as though they don’t exist at all,” said Farah Diaz-Tello, staff attorney for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and one of the panel’s three speakers.

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Duplicity’s Child: How British promises sowed the seeds of today’s Israel-Palestine bloodshed

Gaza and Jerusalem were promised to both the Arabs and the Jews. They're still fighting nearly a century later.
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Israeli soldiers stand in front of a banner with a copy of a letter from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (a leader of the British Jewish community) known as the Balfour Declaration of 1917, as Palestinians, Israeli and foreign protesters demonstrate near the Karmi Tsor Jewish settlement not far from the Palestinian village of Beit Omar in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on November 6, 2010. (Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images)

In October 1917, British forces finally drove the Ottoman army from Gaza, in recent weeks the site of Israeli-Palestinian fighting but then a dusty garrison town that had stubbornly held out against British attacks.

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Aid groups 'stretched very thin' as conflicts persist in Middle East

Even with added funding, relief workers see difficulties in the months ahead.
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Residents of Syria's Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus, collect aid food. (RAMI AL-SAYED/AFP/Getty Images)

Though the latest round of fighting in Gaza began barely four weeks ago, the crisis already has taken a toll on the United Nations' ability to respond to the vast humanitarian needs across the Middle East, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said.

“In less than a month, we have lost eleven of our own,” said Salvatore Lombardo, the agency’s director for external relations and communications. Almost 270,000 displaced Palestinians are living in 90 UNRWA shelters across Gaza, he added.

“While designated emergency shelters were originally equipped to accommodate 500 people, these facilities are now accommodating more than 2,000 people,” he said.

It’s not just the UN. Other humanitarian groups are feeling the weight of supporting the growing number of victims and refugees in Gaza as other conflicts persist in the Middle East. Aid workers say relief efforts face not only shrinking supplies of manpower, food, water and funding, but also the diluted attention of the media, policymakers and donors.

“[We are] being stretched very thin by a number of disaster responses,” said Lawren Sinnema, humanitarian and emergency affairs program management officer at World Vision, an international Christian nonprofit that aids children and their families in times of poverty, war and calamity.

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For US and African leaders at summit, a time to invest in next generation of girls

Commentary: Education, ending child marriages are key to unlocking potential of African girls.
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Some of the Chibok schoolgirls who escaped their Boko Haram Islamist captors wait to meet the Nigerian president at the presidency in Abuja on July 22, 2014. (WOLE EMMANUEL/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBi, Kenya — “I really want to go back to school so that I can get a job and live a better life,” Changamile told us from her home in rural Malawi. But Changamile married at 16, and she has too much housework and no support from her family to return to school.

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The end of Ramadan brings no pardon for poets

Throughout the Muslim world, Ramadan is a time when dispensations are handed out for convicts of nonviolent crimes, but this year, amnesties were not given to writers.
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Yemenis, some of them being journalists, hold placards during a protest on June 25, 2014 in the capital Sanaa in solidarity with Al-Jazeera journalists (seen on the posters) jailed in Egypt. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Eid — the end of Ramadan — has come and gone. Traditional pardons have been handed out. In Qatar, poet Mohammed al Ajami (Al-Dheeb), was not among them. He continues to live in a prison in the desert, serving a 15-year sentence for two poems, one praising the Arab Spring and the other critical of the Emir.

He and his poems “encouraged an attempt to overthrow the regime,” according to the charges.

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Sending ammunition to Israeli military, US shows a legal loophole

Despite war crimes accusations against Israel for killing more than 900 civilians in Gaza, the US has transferred tank ammunition and grenades to its military.
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An Israeli soldier arrives at an army deployment area, on the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, on August 1, 2014. A three-day humanitarian truce in Gaza collapsed only hours after it began amid a deadly new wave of violence and the apparent capture by Hamas of an Israeli soldier. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States has transferred tank ammunition and grenades to the Israeli military in order to refill stocks being depleted in Operation Protective Edge, according to recent reports.

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A corporate warning to El Salvador: Give up your gold or pay $315 million

As Salvadorans debate a mining ban due to pollution concerns, a large mining company has filed suit against the government.
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A güirisero, or illegal miner, shows off a small rock with a tiny gold deposit, mined near San Sebastian, El Salvador. (Jamie Stark/GlobalPost)

SAN SEBASTIAN, El Salvador — Vasita Escobar is certain that chemicals from the abandoned gold mine upriver from her house are slowly killing her family.

“This company that has destroyed life, wanted to keep going,” said Escobar, in reference to Commerce Group Corp., a Wisconsin-based outfit that stopped mining for gold in San Sebastian in 2006 after permit difficulties. “My kids never get better—they’re always skinny. They always breathe the river water, they play in there. When I see my kids suffering, I know others’ are too.”

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Looking at Argentina's Catholic women of worship

In Pope Francis' former spiritual home, women hold a paradoxical role.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Sitting in the first pew before the altar at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires — the former church of Pope Francis, then-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio — I waited for noon Mass to begin.

The Catholic Church had been at the center of many of our interviews and exchanges over coffee, and it seemed like we’d spent most of our time in this cathedral. But this was the first time on the trip — for me, the first time in maybe 20 years — that we’d sat for Mass. Our first interview had confirmed that, in Argentina, you could not look at the issue of abortion without also looking at the church, and the paradoxical relationship women have within it.

“The Catholic Church is a very patriarchal institution that, historically, has been opposed to women’s rights,” Victoria Tesoriero, a member of Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, or Catholics for the Right to Decide, had said in that first interview. “It has bound women to subaltern or domestic roles that are lower in rank — in the hierarchy. This is a place of inequality.”

And yet the Virgin Mary holds great power in the Latin American church.

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