Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Salvadoran court commutes 30 year abortion sentence (March 14, 2018)

A Salvadoran woman convicted of aggravated murder after suffering a stillbirth has been released from jail after 15 years. The Salvadoran Supreme Court commuted her 30 year sentence, calling it excessive and immoral, reports the Guardian

It's the second such reduction for sentences in alleged abortion cases in a country known for its draconian anti-abortion laws, reports the BBC. (See Feb. 16's briefs.) Not only is the procedure banned in all cases, but enforcement is particularly harsh. In many cases where obstetric complications lead to fetal or newborn death, women have been charged with aggravated homicide, with a minimum sentence of 30 years.

A recent Inter-American Commission on Human Rights report highlighted the issue: "These sentences are said to be occurring in the context of proceedings that allegedly fail to respect the right of the accused to a fair trial by not recognizing the principle of presumption of innocence and not assessing the evidence in accordance with inter-American standards on due process protections. Moreover, negative stereotypes around the concept of the “bad mother” and the “murderous mother” are said to prevail in these sentences." (See Jan 30's briefs.)

News Briefs
  • Support for legal abortion through the fourteenth week of pregnancy is swelling among Argentines -- led by comedians and cultural referents who have changed the conversation, especially among the younger population, reports the Guardian. That being said, women often find it nearly impossible to obtain an abortion now, even in the limited cases where it is legal -- rape, and when the women´s life or health is in danger. Amnesty International said over half the provinces in the country don't have regulations ensuring access, and the situation on the ground is often similar to countries where the procedure is totally banned. "During the last 30 years, complications related to risky abortions have been the main cause of maternal death, accounting for a third of total deaths59. The 2007-2011 statistics show that 23% of maternal deaths were a consequence of unsafe abortions."
  • Venezuelan authorities arrested a former cabinet member turned prominent government critic. Former interior minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres was arrested yesterday and accused of plotting violent acts, the latest in a string of opposition figures targeted by the government, reports the New York Times. Allies say he was detained without a warrant while participating in a political act in a Caracas hotel, reports Efecto Cocuyo. He was arrested by the Sebin, the intelligence agency he headed between 2002 and 2013, notes Efecto Cocuyo separately.
  • The United Nations is considering Venezuela's request for election monitoring in the upcoming May presidential vote, reports the AFP. UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman met for two hours at UN headquarters with opposition candidate Henri Falcon, Venezuelan Ambassador Samuel Moncada and other opposition representatives to discuss the request. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • The withdrawal of former FARC commander Rodrigo Londoño from Colombia's upcoming presidential race may actually good news for the peace process, argues Fabio Andres Diaz in the Conversation. (See last Friday's briefs.) "As a scholar of civil conflict, I believe this ex-guerrilla’s withdrawal from public life could be good news for Colombia," he writes. "His withdrawal spares the volatile young party the embarrassment of being crushed in next month’s presidential primary and gives the transitional justice system time to do its job before the FARC faces voters again for 2019’s mayoral races. Londoño’s campaign was an important step in the FARC’s transition from armed rebellion to political party. But it was a powder keg. His retirement averts the risk of a big explosion."
  • Peru's highest court ruled in favor of asking the U.S. to extradite former President Alejandro Toledo, who is accused of taking a $20 million bribe from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, reports EFE.
  • Senator Romero Juca, a key ally of Brazilian President Michel Temer, has been indicted on charges of corruption and money-laundering, reports Bloomberg.
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed its concern about reports that Chilean police spied on reporters as part of an intelligence operation in the southern La Araucanía region.
  • The sudden replacement of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday with former CIA director Mike Pompeo likely won't signal a major policy shift towards Latin America, reports InSight Crime. Nonetheless, it may be aimed at bringing diplomacy in the region more in line with President Donald Trump's personal preferences, according to experts consulted.
  • Mexico's Veracruz state is suing Florida state in an attempt to recover public funds allegedly stolen by former Governor Javier Duarte and invested in Florida properties, reports Bloomberg.
  • Violence in Mexico's resort cities is threatening tourism, which accounts for accounts for about 8 percent of the country's GDP, reports the Guardian.
  • A powerful Mexican business lobby asked presidential frontrunner Andrés Manuel López Obrador to stop questioning the government's economic agenda for fear of damaging investment, reports Reuters. The CCE lobby specifically referred to AMLO's proposals to scrap a new Mexico City airport already under construction and review oil and gas exploration and production contracts.
  • Candidate Ricardo Anaya, who polls second after AMLO, has promised to push corruption investigations for President Enrique Peña Nieto and members of his government, reports Bloomberg.
  • Curious about earthquakes in Mexico? This piece in the Conversation tells you more than you ever thought possible about how tectonic plates bend and what that means for Mexico City, which authors Diego Melgar and Xyoli Pérez-Campos say is at risk for another large quake.

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