Saudi Teenager Pledges to Campaign for Women's Rights: Daily Brief

Plus: Young Bahrain whistleblower jailed in Thailand still at risk of forced return; ICC acquits former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo; call for a national shutdown in Zimbabwe; hope for justice for murdered Rwandan dissident; Polish citizens mourn slain mayor; Thai junta delays elections again; Human Rights Council should put members under scrutiny; Human Rights Watch to release World Report 2019.

In her first interview since she reached safety in Canada, Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun has pledged to use her newfound freedom to campaign for women's rights in Saudi Arabia, and to call for an end to the male guardianship system.

Meanwhile, another young person in Thailand is still at risk of forced return to a country he has fled: former Bahrain national team footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. The Bahrain government has been pursuing al-Araibi with bogus criminal charges since 2014. If extradited, al-Araibi, who is a recognised refugee and permanent resident of Australia, faces a 10-year prison sentence and is at grave risk of being tortured.

Judges at the International Criminal Court have ordered the acquittal of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo and his youth minister Charles Blé Goudé.  Gbagbo had originally been charged with crimes against humanity in connection with violence following a disputed election in 2010. More than 3,000 people were killed and dozens of women rapedGbagbo was the first former head of state to go on trial at the ICC.

Several people have been killed during protests in Zimbabwe after the government more than doubled the price of fuel overnight. More violence is expected today as protesters have called for a the national shutdown.

Justice may still happen for the killing of Colonel Patrick Karegeya, a Rwandan dissident who was found murdered in his hotel room in Johannesburg, South Africa, on January 1, 2014, as an inquest into his murder is set to start tomorrow, January 16, in Johannesburg. 

Thousands of people have gathered in cities across Poland after the fatal stabbing of Gdańsk mayor Paweł Adamowicz in protest at what some say is a creeping pervasiveness of hate speech in Poland’s national discourseAdamowicz was a strong supporter of LGBT and refugee rights.

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in Thailand as the military government reneges on its promise to hold elections in February. It is the fifth time the military junta, which took over in a bloodless coup in 2014, has delayed elections and prevented the country’s return to democracy. 

As a number of rights violators join the United Nations Human Rights Council this month, the world’s top human rights body should uphold its own standards and ensure it does not become a place where violators come to seek shelter but one where members will be put under the spotlight for their abuses, Human Rights Watch’s John Fisher argues.

On Thursday, January 17, Human Rights Watch will be launching its annual World Report. The report assesses progress on major human rights issues during the past year in more than 90 countries and territories.