• Political prisoners in Saudi Arabia have likely been abused, with evidence coming to light of cuts, bruises, burns and malnutrition, according to reports prepared for King Salman. Detailed medical reports were given to the Saudi King with recommendations that are said to include a potential pardon for all the prisoners, or at least early release for those with serious health problems. The Committee to Protect Journalists asserts that the imprisonment of journalist Fahd al-Sunaidi, who has been detained for no apparent reason, demonstrates the sweeping nature of Mohammed bin Salman’s crackdown on press freedom and any commentary that smacks of independent journalism.
(“Leaked reports reveal severe abuse of Saudi political prisoners,” The Guardian, March 31, 2019)
• Eritrean citizens in exile are taking legal action against the European Union for their decision to finance an infrastructure project that will use “conscripted,” forced labor. The Netherlands-based Foundation, Human Rights for Eritreans is calling on the EU to drop its 20 million euro road-building project in the East African nation. The construction project would rely on labor from national service conscripts, who are often required to serve 20 years or more. The system of compulsory national service for military and civil projects has been described by the United Nations and the European Parliament as “mass enslavement.”
(“Europe accused of financing Eritrean project based on forced labor,” The Guardian, April 2, 2019; “It’s just slavery: Eritrean conscripts wait in vain for freedom,” The Guardian, Oct. 11, 2018)
• Major tax software companies like Intuit and H&R Block spend millions of dollars on lobbyists to maintain complicated tax regulations that both frustrate and cost taxpayers time and money.
(“Why the government makes filing your taxes intentionally difficult,” In These Times, April 1, 2019)
This week’s News Summary was narrated by Richard Hill.