Indian police on April 24 arrested Sikh separatist leader Amritpal Singh after a month-long manhunt. Singh gained notoriety for supporting the Khalistan movement, which calls for the establishment of an independent Sikh homeland in the northwest state of Punjab. He was taken into custody in the gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) in the village of Moga, Punjab. He is charged with attempted murder, obstructing law enforcement, and disturbing the peace under terms of the harsh National Security Act. The charges concern a Feb. 23 incident in which hundreds of followers of Singh's organization Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab) stormed a police station in Amritsar with sticks, swords and firearms, demanding the release of a detained member of their group. During the manhunt for Singh, authorities cut off internet access to all Punjab, a state of nearly 30 million. (Jurist, Mint)
The Supreme Court of Russia on May 25 ordered the liquidation of the People's Freedom Party (PARNAS) at the request of the country's justice ministry, according to state news agency TASS. The Ministry of Justice contended that the number of the party's regional offices dropped by seven, from 47 to 40, and law requires parties to have representative offices in half of the regions of the Russian Federation. According to the independent Mediazona, whose reporters were in the courtroom, PARNAS leaders responded that the party still had 44 offices, and was only considered out of compliance with the law because the court counted Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine as Russian administrative regions.
Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao has ended the decades-long run of popular satirical cartoonist Wong Kei-kwan, known by his pseudonym "Zunzi," after his work drew fire from government authorities. Since 1983, Zunzi's work had lampooned city officials over corruption, authoritarianism, rights abuses, and subservience to Beijing. "Ming Pao thanks Zunzi for the 40 years he has been with us to witness the changes of the times," the editorial department wrote in a note accompanying the artist's last cartoon May 11. The move came after his drawings were publicly criticized by both Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee and Security Bureau chief Chris Tang. (Nikkei Asia)
President Guillermo Lasso dissolved Ecuador's opposition-controlled National Assembly on May 17—just one day after his impeachment trial began. The impeachment proceedings are of course suspended, and Lasso is to rule by decree, subject to oversight only by the Constitutional Court, until new presidential and legislative elections are held. His office issued a communique asserting that Lasso acted under Article 148 of the Ecuadoran Constitution, which states: "The President of the Republic will be able to dissolve the National Assembly…if it repeatedly without justification obstructs implementation of the National Development Plan or because of a severe political crisis and domestic unrest." The so-called "muerte cruzada" (mutual death) provision, introduced in 2008, has never been used in Ecuador before.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on April 26 approved revised amendments to the Counter-Espionage Law of the People's Republic of China, in the first revision of the legislation since 2014. Under the previous law, threats to national security narrowly concerned state secrets. However, the new provisions broaden the scope of "espionage" to encompass any action, document, data or material which may be considered a threat to national security by state authorities. The reforms also expand the duties of law enforcement personnel in countering espionage activity, and the definition of "spying" has been broadened to include cyberattacks. The reforms follow President Xi Jinping's new emphasis on strengthening "national security."
Peru's military and police likely carried out extrajudicial or arbitrary killings and committed other "egregious abuses" against demonstrators as well as bystanders during protests that swept the country from late last year through February, Human Rights Watch says in a new report. While some protesters were responsible for acts of violence, security forces responded with "grossly disproportionate" force, including with assault weapons. Forty-nine protesters and bystanders, including eight children, were documented as killed in the unrest. The April 26 report, "Deadly Decline: Security Force Abuses and Democratic Crisis in Peru" emphasizes "the entrenched political and social crisis that is eroding the rule of law and human rights" in the Andean country. The administration of President Dina Boluarte "seems to have looked the other way for weeks as security forces killed protesters and bystanders," said César Muñoz, associate Americas director at Human Rights Watch. (HRW)
A court in the French overseas department of Mayotte on April 25 ordered the government to stop its expulsion of migrants in the island territory. In Operation Wuambushu, which means "Take Back" in the local Maore language, the government sought to dismantle a "slum" known as Talus 2 in the town of Koungou, removing a population of undocumented migrants and demolishing shelters. Talus 2 has seen repeated angry protests over the clearance plan. Mayotte is a transit point for migrants traveling from Comoros, a nearby archipelago off Southeast Africa. (Jurist, Le Journal de Mayotte)
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on April 7 condemned Sri Lanka's proposed Anti-Terrorism Act, charging that it would allow authorities to systematically violate fundamental rights. HRW recommended that the government withdraw the bill until it can properly meet international human rights standards. The current text of the bill, intended to replace the 1979 Prevention of Terrorism Act, includes crimes such as property damage, theft or robbery under "terrorism" offenses, and would restrict the rights to freedom of assembly and speech. The bill further grants the police and military broad powers to detain people without evidence.