Guatemala lawmakers have introduced legislation that would punish with prison time certain kinds of speech criticising elected officials and candidates.
Five legislators introduced the legislation on Tuesday but reactions have followed, prompting charges that it would violate constitutional measures guaranteeing freedom of expression.
The initiative targets “those who make acts of pressure, persecution and harassment” against politicians “in any medium of diffusion and/or on digital platforms, with the end of impeding the exercise of their political rights.”
It calls for sentences of two to three years.
Eva Monte, a lawmaker who has supported President Jimmy Morales, denied that the bill would stifle free speech and said it aims to crack down on defamation.
“This will serve to punish, for example, when a candidate or politician is linked to cases of corruption but in reality is not being investigated or accused.
“That would be a kind of coercion and should be punished.
“This also seeks to protect lawmakers, the vice president and the president,” Monte said.
Morales is suspected of accepting illicit campaign finance contributions, but a request to withdraw the immunity from prosecution that he enjoys as sitting president was not approved by congress.
The president denies wrongdoing.
Human rights prosecutor Jordan Rodas warned that the measure is unconstitutional.
“It goes against the free expression of thought,” Rodas said. “Politicians should mind their actions to avoid criticism.”
The bill goes first to a congressional commission for analysis of its constitutionality.
Two similar initiatives earlier this year were heavily criticised, including by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and failed to win approval by lawmakers.
Amid allegations of possible illegal activity against Morales, family members and political associates, the president has moved to defang a UN commission investigating corruption in the country.
The president recently declined to renew the commission’s mandate for another two years, giving it until the end of its current term next September to wrap up its activities and leave the country.
UN Says 10 Children Among 13 Killed By US Air Strike In Afghanistan
The United Nations has on Monday confirmed that ten children, part of the same extended family, were killed by a US air strike in Afghanistan, along with three adult civilians.
The deadly attack occurred early Saturday near the capital city of volatile Kunduz province a northern province where the Taliban is strong where Afghan and U.S. forces were conducting a joint operation against Taliban insurgents.
Sgt. Debra Richardson, spokeswoman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, confirmed on Sunday that US forces carried out the air strike. She said the mission aims to prevent civilian casualties, while the Taliban intentionally hides among civilians.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in releasing its preliminary findings about the incident. UNAMA said in a statement that it is verifying that all 13 civilian casualties occurred around the time of the air strike.
U.S. officials confirmed the killing of two service members and carrying out an airstrike in the area, accusing the Taliban of using civilian areas as hideouts.
The strike which happened between late Friday and early Saturday is to support the pro-government forces on ground fighting against the Taliban militants in the area. The ensuing clashes have killed two American soldiers and several local commando forces, prompting the U.S. military to launch the airstrike
Seven Wounded As Gaza Rocket Strikes Home In Central Israel
Seven people were wounded early Monday morning after a rocket allegedly fired from Gaza Strip stuck a house in central Israel prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short his visit to Washington and return to Israel after his meeting with President Donald Trump.
The Israel Defense Forces said that the rocket, which struck a home in the community of Mishmeret, was fired from a Hamas position in the area of Rafah in the southern Strip, some 120 kilometers from where it struck. It said the rocket was manufactured by the group.
Israel’s ambulance service said it treated seven people overall, including two women who were moderately wounded. The others, including two children and an infant, had minor wounds.
Israel has also closed the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings into the Strip.
Netanyahu said that Israel “will respond forcefully” to the rocket fire and that he was returning “to manage our operations up close.”
Teacher From Remote Kenya Village Is World’s Best, Wins $1 Million
A maths and physics teacher from rural Kenya who donates most of his salary to help poorer students has won the $1m Global Teacher Prize for 2019 beating 10,000 nominations from 179 countries.
36-year-old, Peter Tabichi, a science teacher at Keriko secondary school in Pwani Village, in a remote village in Kenya’s Rift Valley, Tabichi, a member of the Franciscan religious order, who gives away 80 percent of his salary to support poor students, received the prize at a ceremony on Saturday in Dubai, hosted by Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman.
“Every day in Africa we turn a new page and a new chapter, this prize does not recognise me but recognises this great continent’s young people. I am only here because of what my students have achieved,” Tabichi said.
In a society where drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common while over 90% of his pupils are from poor families and almost a third are orphans or have only one parent, students have to walk 7km along roads that can become impassable in the rainy season to reach the school.
- UN Says 10 Children Among 13 Killed By US Air Strike In Afghanistan March 25, 2019
- Seven Wounded As Gaza Rocket Strikes Home In Central Israel March 25, 2019
- Appeal Court Cancels Zamfara APC Primaries For Gov, Assembly Elections March 25, 2019
- Morocco: Teachers Protest Over Poor Working Conditions March 25, 2019
- Cyclone Idai: Cases Of Cholera Reported In Storm-Hit Areas March 25, 2019
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