12 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

ACLU calls revelation ‘horrific’ and blames administration’s poor execution of family separation policy

A sign during a rally in Los Angeles. The complications the government has run into foretell a troubled road ahead.

A sign during a rally in Los Angeles. The complications the government has run into foretell a troubled road ahead. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

The Department of Justice (DoJ) told a federal judge Tuesday that it may have mistakenly separated a father and toddler who could both be US citizens for as long as a year, in the process of enforcing the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the revelation “horrific” and blamed the administration’s poor execution of the practice of family separations.

“The fact that a citizen got caught up in this mess shows just how poor the government’s record-keeping was, and this is just the latest example,” said Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

On 26 June, in a suit filed by the ACLU against the government over the separation of families at the southern border, federal judge Dana Sabraw granted a preliminary injunction requiring the reunification of children under the age of five by 10 July.

In a hearing on Tuesday, just before the deadline, the DoJ was asked to account for each failed reunification of the 102 younger children in its care. It noted 27 cases where it found reunification was not currently feasible, including one “because the parent’s location has been unknown for more than a year … and records show the parent and child might be US citizens”.

Previously the DoJ had only revealed that the child’s father could not be located. The ACLU and the court were only made aware that both father and child might be US citizens on Tuesday.

“It actually happens much more frequently than you would believe,” Gelernt said. “They [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] make mistakes.”

In total the DoJ said it expected to have 38 children under five reunified by Tuesday’s 10pm PT deadline, 16 “soon thereafter” and another 20 depending on a number of conditions including whether or not parents can be located, and “if those parents request reunification”.

In Tuesday’s hearing, Sabraw said that the families were improperly separated and that he would not extend the deadline, meaning that the government is technically in violation of the court order as of Tuesday night. “These are firm deadlines. They’re not aspirational goals,” Sabraw said.

The complications the government has run into complying with Sabraw’s order foretell a troubled road ahead. Children under five represent just 5% of the 2,000 to 3,000 – the government has admitted it does not have an exact figure – who have been separated from their parents in recent months. Sabraw’s injunction requires the remaining 1,900 be reunified by 26 June.

The identity of the children and parents as provided to the judge by the government under court order are currently shielded by law.

The Legal Aid Society in New York said it is representing at least two of the separated children under five.

One boy, from El Salvador, was due to be released to his mother, according to Beth Krause, the supervising attorney of Legal Aid’s Immigrant Youth Project.

“I have no details about where, when, under what conditions,” she wrote in an email on Tuesday morning. The other boy, from Honduras, would remain with a foster family while the father remained in government custody, although it was not clear to her why.

“I know very, very little about this case,” she said. “It’s all very frustrating.”

The revelation comes on the same day that the Trump administration announced it would be implementing an ankle monitor system to track migrant families – a decision that was forced by Sabraw’s injunction and another federal court decision that came down on Monday.

After Trump signed an executive order ending his administration’s family separation policy in June, agencies had planned to detain families and children together until the parents’ immigration proceedings were complete, a process that can take months. That proposal ran afoul of the decades-old Flores v Reno settlement, which stipulates that migrant children cannot be held in detention for more than 20 days.

On Monday, another federal judge in California rejected a DoJ request to allow the long-term detention of migrant children, meaning that they could no longer separate families or hold them together in detention without running afoul of the federal courts.

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Bill passed by parliament means more than €300m shares in coal, oil, peat and gas will be sold ‘as soon as practicable’

A message to the Irish government to divest from fossil fuels is spelled out in lights in front of the lower house of parliament.

A message to the Irish government to divest from fossil fuels is spelled out in lights in front of the lower house of parliament. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland/Trócaire/

The Republic of Ireland will become the world’s first country to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies, after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament.

The state’s €8bn national investment fund will be required to sell all investments in coal, oil, gas and peat “as soon as is practicable”, which is expected to mean within five years. Norway’s huge $1tn sovereign wealth fund has only partially divested from fossil fuels, targeting some coal companies, and is still considering its oil and gas holdings.

The fossil fuel divestment movement has grown rapidly and trillions of dollars of investment funds have been divested, including large pension funds and insurers, cities such as New York, churches and universities.

Supporters of divestment say existing fossil fuel resources are already far greater than can be burned without causing catastrophic climate change and that exploring and producing more fossil fuels is therefore morally wrong and economically risky. However, some critics argue say that remaining as shareholders and persuading fossil fuel companies to change can be more effective.

The Irish fossil fuel divestment bill was passed in the lower house of parliament on Thursday and it is expected to pass rapidly through the upper house, meaning it could become law before the end of the year. The Irish state investment fund holds more than €300m in fossil fuel investments in 150 companies.

“The [divestment] movement is highlighting the need to stop investing in the expansion of a global industry which must be brought into managed decline if catastrophic climate change is to be averted,” said Thomas Pringle, the independent member of parliament who introduced the bill. “Ireland by divesting is sending a clear message that the Irish public and the international community are ready to think and act beyond narrow short term vested interests.”

Éamonn Meehan, executive director of international development charity Trócaire, said: “Today the Oireachtas [Irish parliament] has sent a powerful signal to the international community about the need to speed up the phase-out of fossil fuels.”

Meehan said: “Just last month Ireland was ranked the second worst European country for climate action, so the passing of this bill is good news. But it has to mark a significant change of pace on the issue.”

The bill defines a fossil fuel company as a company that derives 20% or more of its revenue from exploration, extraction or refinement of fossil fuels. The bill also allows investment in Irish fossil fuel companies if this funds their move away from fossil fuels.

Gerry Liston at Global Legal Action Network, who drafted the bill, said: “Governments will not meet their obligations under the Paris agreement on climate change if they continue to financially sustain the fossil fuel industry. Countries the world over must now urgently follow Ireland’s lead and divest from fossil fuels.”

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Activists unfurl an Amnesty International banner on Vauxhall Bridge in London

Photograph: Luca Bruno/AP

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Planned census of civil war and dictatorship victims aims to help families trace relatives

The tomb of Francisco Franco, marked with a 150-metre cross, in the Valle de los Caídos near Madrid.

The tomb of Francisco Franco, marked with a 150-metre cross, in the Valle de los Caídos near Madrid. Photograph: Óscar del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images

Spain’s new government has announced plans to establish a truth commission to investigate crimes against humanity committed by the regime of the former military dictator Francisco Franco, more than 40 years after his death.

Under a new law of historical memory, the criminal records of those convicted for opposing the regime will be wiped and organisations that venerate the memory of the dictator, such as the Fundación Francisco Franco, will also be outlawed.

Members of the foundation lay fresh flowers every day on Franco’s grave and its website carries eulogies to his memory. Franco, a contemporary of Hitler and Mussolini, came to power after the 1936-39 civil war and ruled until his death in 1975.

The Spanish government says it will take responsibility for making a census of the victims of the civil war and the ensuing dictatorship. It will also open an estimated 1,200 mass graves.

Dolores Delgado, the justice minister, told parliament: “It’s not acceptable that people in their 90s who are desperately trying to recover their parents’ remains should be blocked by a judge or the arbitrary ruling of a local authority.

“Nor is it acceptable that Spain is, after Cambodia, the country with the highest number of disappeared in the world.”

Under an earlier historical memory law passed by the socialist government in 2007 the state had a duty to help families trace and exhume relatives buried in unmarked graves but that support was withdrawn after the rightwing People’s party came to power in 2011.

A key difference in the new proposal is that the government’s commission is taking the lead, whereas under the 2007 law it simply offered support to families trying to trace relatives who disappeared under the dictatorship.

The proposal has been greeted with caution by individuals and organisations who have spent years fighting for justice for the regime’s victims.

“If our sentences are annulled we will no longer be branded as criminals and some sort of normality will be restored after a 40-year delay,” José María “Chato” Galante told the Guardian.

Galante was convicted almost 50 years ago of “illicit association” and “illegal propaganda” and spent seven years in prison where he was tortured by the sadistic policeman known as Billy the Kid.

José María “Chato” Galante approaches the jail cell where, as a 24-year-old, he was imprisoned for fighting against the dictatorship.

José María ‘Chato’ Galante approaches the jail cell where, as a 24-year-old, he was imprisoned for fighting against the dictatorship. Photograph: Almudena Carracedo

“This is a positive step but none of it makes sense unless the torturers and those who committed crimes against humanity are brought to justice,” he said.

An estimated 140,000 people disappeared during and after the civil war, not including those killed in combat. Despite repeated demands from the UN, Spain is the only democracy that hasn’t investigated state terrorism once a dictatorship had come to an end.

When democracy was restored in the years after Franco’s death, all sides agreed to maintain a pact of silence over the civil war and its aftermath.

“They shouldn’t be able to hide behind the 1977 amnesty law, which doesn’t apply to crimes against humanity,” Galante said. “All of the victims of Francoism should get justice for the crimes committed against them. Without that, reconciliation is impossible.”

According to official figures, the remains of 120,000 victims have been exhumed from 2,591 unmarked graves around the country. The areas with the largest number of graves are Andalusia in the south and the northern regions of Aragón and Asturias.

“We need to see what exactly they mean when they say the state is taking responsibility,” said Emilio Silva of the Association of for the Recovery of Historical Memory.

“What we need to see is the removal of the obstacles to prosecuting the crimes committed by the dictatorship, principally the amnesty law, but also a politically inspired judicial ruling that no one should be tried for those crimes. That ruling needs to be overturned.”

Delgado said Spain “was committed to uncovering the truth using the correct and effective measures that can guarantee reparation for the victims of Francoism”.

She added: “Spain can no longer continue to be identified in international forums as one of the least compliant countries in regard to resolutions on the violations of human rights, the right to truth, justice and reparations.”

The UN rapporteur, Pablo de Greiff, in 2014 denounced the government’s inaction regarding the “just demands” of the victims of Francoism.

It remains to be seen how far the law will extend to returning property that was confiscated often simply because the owner had been denounced as a “red”.

Silva says it is not clear how this law goes further than the one proposed by José Luis Zapatero’s government in 2007, which deliberately did not annul the criminal records of the victims.

“Thousands of those convicted under the regime had their property confiscated – homes, land, savings – and Zapatero’s government was afraid that if the sentences were annulled the confiscations would be, too, which would open the door to the heirs reclaiming what is rightfully theirs,” he said.

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