Mandatory sterilization in Rwanda

Human Rights Watch has issued a statement asking for the removing of contentious proposals in a draft bill before the Rwandan parliament. Health and human rights director Joe Amon said that if enacted, the law would require the forced sterilization of mentally disabled persons, mandatory HIV/AIDS testing for couples who plan to wed, for married individuals at his or her spouse's request, and for children or incapacitated persons for whom it is deemed "necessary" without their consent. He said:

While Rwanda has made notable progress in fighting stigma and responding to the AIDS epidemic, and has pledged to advance the rights of persons with disability, forced sterilization and mandatory HIV testing do not contribute to those goals. These elements of the bill undermine reproductive health goals and undo decades of work to ensure respect for reproductive rights.

In recent years Rwanda has made not simply strides but rather leaps in combating HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS figures reveal a dramatic drop in national adult HIV prevalence, from nine percent in 1990 to a little under three percent in 2007.

Essentially, Rwanda's efforts to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS need to be decoupled from any attempts at compulsory sterilization or testing. If undertaken in a widespread manner or as part of systematic practice as the bill intends, forced sterilization is regarded as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to which Rwanda is party. Rwanda has also signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol as of December 15, 2008.

Deputy speaker of the Rwandan parliament Damascene Ntawukuriryayo has subsequently denied the existence of the bill.

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Tony Blair's bid for EU Presidency faces growing opposition

Two years out of No. 10 Downing Street, Tony Blair has a new ambition: becoming Europe's first president under the Treaty of Lisbon. Under the new treaty (which will go into effect next year if Ireland ratifies it in an October referendum), the President of the European Council would be transformed from a rotating six-month post to a newly powerful position that could be occupied by the same person for up to five years.

But while Blair is is the highest-profile politician to be considering the position, his candidacy is being met with rapidly growing opposition from other European states

Senior officials in Stockholm, which assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the EU today, said they feared a President Blair would be a divisive figure, triggering friction between small and large European countries, and added that José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, was even more strongly opposed to Blair securing the post and usurping Madrid's running of the union next year[...]

"The small countries don't want a strong leader because they fear he will be run by the big [EU] countries," said {Swedish prime minister Fredrik] Reinfeldt

Given how many different egos (both national and personal) are involved, a Blair bid would likely be the dramatic fight election junkies love. Stay tuned.