Category Archives: World

Danny Glover at the opening of 3rd Luxor African Film Festival, Egypt

Top African-American film star Danny Glover will attend the opening of the 3rd African Film Festival (18-24 March, 2014) to present his latest film “The Children’s Republic” that will open the festival. Also attending, among top African and international guests, Flora Gomes, the Guinea-Bissau director of the acclaimed film. Both Glover and Gomes will be given special tribute for their rich career at the opening night along with Egyptian star Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz.
Glover has confirmed his attendance with his spouse to enjoy a stay in the historical city of Luxor.
“The Children’s Republic” takes place in an African small spot hard to find on a map, when men are ruled by a political and economic system that they pick by random draw. Bribery and looting are common laws that exhaust people. One day, they decide to run away from their country, scared by the wars they triggered themselves, sickened by the disasters they set off but, above all, leaving their children behind. The young ones will have to take over the country and try to succeed where the adults failed by creating “The Children’s Republic”.
Flora Gomes Flora Gomes who was born 1949 in Cadique, Guinea-Bissau left his country in 1972 to study cinema at the Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematography under the guidance of Santiago Álvarez. Gomes then continued his studies at the Senegalese Journal for Motion Picture News under the direction of Paulin Soumanou Vieyra before co-directing two films with Sergio Pina and working as an assistant with Chris Marker and Anita Fernandez. Upon returning to a liberated Guinea-Bissau, Gomes filmed his country’s independence ceremony on 24 September 1974. Having first directed historical documentaries, Gomes filmed his first narrative film Mortu Nega (1990) that was particularly well received in France, which in later years enabled him to attract funding for the production of his following films like include My Voice (2002) and As Duas Faces da Guerra co-directed with Diana Andringa (2007). Gomes was distinguished in France with the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in the year 2000.
Luxor African Film Festival was founded by Independent Shabab Foundation with the support of the Egyptian Ministries of Culture, Tourism, Foreign Affairs, Youth and Investment in addition to the Egyptian Film Syndicate, the Luxor Governorate and the National Bank of Egypt.

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Nigeria Becomes the Latest Country to Pass Dangerous Anti-Gay Legislation

London, 15 January 2014

On 7 January 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in secret. The Act imposes lengthy prison sentences on any person who attempts to enter into a same-sex marriage or civil union; who participates in a gay club, society or organisation; or who makes a public display of affection with a person of the same sex.

Unaware that he had signed the Act, The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) wrote to President Jonathan on 10 January 2014, urging him not to sign the legislation, which had been passed by the National Assembly of Nigeria on 17 December 2013. As shown in ERT’s letter, the Act contravenes a number of human rights which Nigeria is obligated to protect; and it will legitimise, institutionalise, and perpetuate the profound discrimination and gross inequality suffered by lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in Nigeria today.

Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Act largely restate the extant legal position in Nigeria, reiterating that same-sex marriage is not legal. However, section 5 of the Act establishes new criminal sanctions of up to fourteen years’ imprisonment for those who seek to enter into a same-sex marriage or civil union. The section also imposes criminal penalties of up to ten years’ imprisonment on those who witness a same-sex marriage or civil union. The broad definition of “civil union” means that any arrangement by which same-sex couples live together is prohibited.

Section 4(1) of the Act prohibits the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations with similar punishments of imprisonment for any individual who tries to register or participate in such a club, society or organisation. Section 4(2) of the Act criminalises “public shows of amorous same-sex relationships” with up to ten years’ imprisonment.

As set out in ERT’s letter to the President, these provisions represent a clear violation of the rights to be free from degrading treatment, as well as to freedom of expression, assembly and association, as protected by international treaties. The Act also violates the right to non-discrimination, as provided by Articles 2(1) and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

This legislation joins other laws in Nigeria which seriously infringe on the rights of LGBT persons, particularly the continuing criminalisation of same-sex sexual activity punishable by long terms of imprisonment in the southern states of Nigeria, and by the death penalty in the northern states. The criminalisation of same-sex sexual activity constitutes a flagrant violation of the rights to privacy and non-discrimination, and the imposition of the death penalty for such acts is incompatible with the strict limitations on the permissible use of the death penalty under international law

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ERT Marks International Human Rights Day 2013

ERT Commemorates the Contribution of Nelson Mandela and the United Nations to Equality
London, 10 December 2013

Today, on Human Rights Day, as the memorial service of Nelson Mandela takes place in Soweto stadium, Johannesburg, The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) celebrates Mandela’s unmatched contribution to equality as a human right central to social justice. Inspired by Mandela, South Africa has developed one of the strongest equality and human rights frameworks, setting an example for the rest of the world. Human Rights Day 2013 will be remembered as the day when the world commemorated Mandela’s life and achievements. Today also has a special significance for all those engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights in the UN human rights framework as this year marks the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. ERT joins those who commend the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay, for her contribution, which began in South Africa, to the promotion of human rights, and the rights to equality and non-discrimination in particular.

The end of apartheid was a crucial juncture in the movement towards greater equality everywhere and gave impetus to the progressive development of equality law as a global trend. In 1996, the South African Constitution was adopted and provided for a wide range of rights based on the principle of the equality of all persons. Amongst other things, it gave people a legal right to socio-economic rights and access to a Constitutional Court whose progressive judgments have placed the equality of all persons at their centre. The 2008 Declaration of Principles on Equality, which reflects the unified human rights framework on equality, was developed by ERT with the strong participation of numerous equality advocates from around the world, including people who were pivotal to the transformation in South Africa. A number of the principles in the Declaration, for example those related to positive action, and the identification of the prohibited grounds of discrimination, reflect South African law and good practice.

Despite these positive developments, there remain many challenges in translating the principles of equality into the daily reality of life for people in South Africa and all other countries. ERT is committed to tackling these challenges and to the eradication of all forms of inequality. At a global level, ERT has engaged with the Universal Periodic Review and the UN Treaty Bodies on at least 15 occasions per year, providing information on states’ compliance with their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights to equality and non-discrimination. ERT has also contributed to the understanding of the centrality of equality to the realisation of all human rights including socio-economic rights, the rights of stateless persons and the right to be free from torture and other forms of ill-treatment. At a national level, ERT works with hundreds of civil society organisations in countries across the world to build their capacity to combat discrimination and promote equality.

Looking ahead, ERT remains committed to working with its partners at the national and international level to combat discrimination and promote equality as a fundamental human right and a basic principle of social justice

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Court Watch: Christian Hotel Owners Directly Discriminated against Same-Sex Civil Partners in UK

London, 9 December 2013

On 27 November 2013, the UK Supreme Court issued its judgment in Bull and Another v Hall and Another, in which it ruled on whether Christian hotel owners discriminated against homosexual civil partners through a policy to only let double rooms to “heterosexual married couples”. In a decision which robustly defends the rights of same-sex couples to equal access to goods, facilities and services, the Court held that the policy directly discriminated against civil partners whose status, aside from their sexual orientation, was indistinguishable from that of married couples.

Mr and Mrs Bull (the Appellants) are Christians who own and run a hotel in Cornwall. Mr Hall and Mr Preddy (the Respondents) are civil partners. In the UK, civil partnership is a legal status available to same-sex couples which was introduced in 2004 in order to accord them the same legal rights as married couples at a time when marriage was only available to opposite-sex couples. In 2008, the Respondents booked a double room at the Appellants’ hotel. The Appellants believe that sex other than between a man and woman who are married to each other is sinful and their hotel policy stipulated that “out of a deep regard for marriage” double rooms were to be let only to “heterosexual married couples”. On arrival at the hotel, the policy was explained to the Respondents who were turned away.

The Respondents claimed that the Appellants had discriminated against them on grounds of their sexual orientation in violation of the then applicable Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 (the Regulations). The Appellants denied this, arguing that the UK’s discrimination law must be applied so as to be compatible with their right to manifest their religion under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). The county court held that the Appellants had directly discriminated against the Respondents and found that, even if that had not been the case, the policy would amount to indirect discrimination without justification. It awarded the Respondents £1,800 each for injury to feelings. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision. The Appellants appealed.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. By a 3-2 majority it agreed with the earlier courts that the policy was unlawful direct discrimination. The majority, albeit with differing reasoning, held that civil partnership is equivalent to marriage under UK law and that this is emphasised in the Regulations. Distinguishing between civil partners and married couples in the present case amounted to direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Furthermore, it was clear that the Appellants would also refuse to provide a double room to same-sex married couples (e.g. those coming from countries where same-sex marriage was legal).

However, even if this were not direct discrimination, the Court unanimously agreed that the policy would amount to indirect discrimination as it put same-sex couples, who could not enter a marriage in the UK, at a serious disadvantage. Although the Appellants had a right to manifest their religious beliefs, that right could not justify the indirect discrimination in this case. The Appellants were free to manifest their beliefs in many other ways, including by not providing double rooms to married couples either. Parliament had clearly considered the importance of providing equal access to goods and services regardless of sexual orientation and had chosen to give only a limited exception to “religious organisations” but not religious individuals providing goods and services. To find otherwise would be to exempt a whole class of persons from the obligations of discrimination law. This same analysis explained why, as a matter of human rights law, the Appellants’ right to manifest their religious belief under Article 9 ECHR had been lawfully limited under Article 9(2) ECHR.

ERT welcomes the Supreme Court’s finding that the policy amounted to direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. It is important to understand that, as civil partners in the UK have an equivalent legal status to married persons, the protected characteristic that has caused the less favourable treatment is indeed sexual orientation, rather than marital status. Whilst it is important to ensure religious freedom, this does not extend to permitting service providers to manifest their religion in the provision of their services in a way which discriminates against service users on grounds of their sexual orientation.

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On Eve of EU Eastern Partnership Summit, ERT Calls on Ukraine to Reform Equality Law

Suspension of EU Negotiations Should Not Delay Equality Law Reform in Ukraine

London, 27 November 2013

As the European Union and Ukraine meet to discuss their future relations, The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) is calling on the Ukrainian authorities to reform and amend the country’s equality legislation to bring it in line with international and European standards. ERT has also urged the European Union to maintain pressure for equality law reform, despite the suspension of negotiations for an Association Agreement. ERT has been actively involved in advocating reforms to equality legislation in Ukraine.

In recent years, the EU and Ukraine had been working towards ratification of an Association Agreement which would deepen political and economic integration, including through the creation of a free trade area and establishment of visa-free access for Ukrainians to the EU. It was hoped that the Agreement would be signed at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on 28-29 November, but Ukraine announced last week that it was suspending preparatory work on the Agreement. The decision, which the Ukrainian Prime Minister said was “the only one possible in the current economic situation” but which is also widely seen as a result of pressure from Russia, has prompted mass protests and caused imprisoned opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, to go on hunger strike.

The suspension of negotiations on the Association Agreement puts at risk the development of equality law in Ukraine. The adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation was one of the conditions put in place by the EU. Ukraine began the process of equality law reform in October 2012, with the adoption of the Law “On Principles of Prevention and Combating Discrimination in Ukraine”. Analysis by ERT and other international experts, however, concluded that this Law falls short of international and European standards in a number of respects, including that it:

Does not explicitly cover a number of important protected characteristics such as sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy and maternity, and health status;
Uses flawed definitions of “direct discrimination” and “indirect discrimination”;
Does not recognise failure to make reasonable accommodation as a form of discrimination;
Lacks any obligation to institute positive action measures; and
Fails to provide for effective access to justice, remedies and sanctions.
Most importantly, as a result of the lack of consultation in the rush to adopt the Law, it creates many conflicts and inconsistencies with the pre-existing legal and policy framework related to equality. Throughout 2013, ERT has advocated for Ukraine to reform its equality legislation to bring it into line with international and European standards. In a report to the UN Human Rights Committee, a series of 6 workshops and seminars with policy-makers, lawyers and activists and a legal analysis disseminated to Ukrainian parliamentarians and government officials, ERT has called for amendments to the Law “On Principles of Prevention and Combating Discrimination in Ukraine” to address inconsistencies with international and domestic law.

ERT is concerned that Ukraine will lose the momentum of legal reform on equality, as the pressure to amend its legislation in order to comply with the terms of the Association Agreement diminishes. ERT urges Ukraine to continue its efforts to address the problems identified in our legal analysis. ERT further calls on the EU to ensure that equality law reform remains a key priority in any future negotiations with the country.

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New Report on Equality in Belarus Published by ERT

ERT Publishes Half an Hour to Spring: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Belarus

London, Thursday 28 November

Today, at an event held alongside the European Union Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, The Equal Rights Trust (ERT), in partnership with the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHC), launched Half an Hour to Spring: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Belarus. This addition to the ERT Country Report Series is the first ever comprehensive account of discrimination and inequalities on all grounds and in all areas of life in Belarus. It is based on extensive field research and rigorous analysis of legislation and policies, and makes a set of recommendations to the Belarusian authorities on the necessary reforms to law, policy and practice on equality and non-discrimination.

Speaking at the launch of the report in Vilnius, ERT Executive Director Dimitrina Petrova said:

“This report reveals a complex picture: considered by many to be Europe’s last dictatorship, Belarus carries forward from its Soviet past a claim to be a state for the people and a model of tolerance. The report concludes that the hybrid between a social state and an authoritarian polity is ultimately hostile to the realisation of equality as a human right.”

The report finds significant evidence of discrimination on grounds of religion, ethnicity, language and political opinion, against those associated with heterodox views of the country’s future. Yet it also finds evidence of a range of policies aimed at accelerating progress towards equality for women, persons with disabilities, and other groups traditionally exposed to discrimination.

Half an Hour to Spring is launched as Belarus participates in the European Union Eastern Partnership Summit. The EU has long been a key driving force for improvements in equality legislation, both in its 28 member states and in neighbouring states. In recent years, the EU has encouraged the development of equality legislation in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine. The rapid pace of progress in other European countries has left Belarus behind, such that – despite its range of progressive social programmes for groups exposed to discrimination – the country has some of the weakest protections from discrimination in Europe. As the EU and Belarus meet at this summit, ERT and BHC call on both parties to cooperate in the development of comprehensive equality legislation which will enable Belarus to both meet its international legal obligations and achieve its own stated aims.

The report is published in Russian. An Executive Summary in English is also available and full English language version will be available soon. The report is available in print as well as online

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One Court Gives and Another Takes Away on Statelessness

London, 23 October 2013

Two important judgments have recently been given in cases with significant implications for statelessness. The judgments highlight two ends of the spectrum in the battle to eradicate statelessness caused by discrimination on grounds of descent. In the first case, following Judgment TC/0168 of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic on 23 September 2013, it is estimated that at least a quarter of a million people will be either stripped of their Dominican citizenship or have recognition of their citizenship refused, rendering them stateless. In the second case, on 9 October 2013, the UK Supreme Court issued its judgment in Secretary of State for the Home Department v Al-Jeddah reiterating that the UK could not strip a British national of their citizenship in any circumstances if doing so would render that person stateless.

Dominican Republic

ERT has long been concerned about the invidious direct discrimination faced by Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic. On 23 September 2013, the Constitutional Court handed down a controversial ruling which caused further concern. The ruling allows the removal of the right to nationality for all citizens of foreign descent dating back to 21 June 1929. It has been estimated that the decision affects at least a quarter of a million citizens, the majority of these being Dominicans of Haitian descent. The case concerned Ms Juliana Deguis Pierre, who was born in the Dominican Republic of Haitian parents and registered as Dominican by birth. In 2004 a new General Law on Migration put an end to the automatic recognition of Dominicans of foreign descent as nationals. This law was applied retroactively, meaning that thousands of Dominicans, including Ms Pierre, were in practice stripped of their citizenship and left in a legal limbo. Ms Pierre took her case to the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court held that Ms Pierre, and anyone in the same situation, did not meet the requirements to be registered as a Dominican national and when the judgment if implemented she, along with hundreds of thousands of others, will be stripped of their citizenship and rendered stateless.

ERT considers that this decision and the General Law on Migration directly discriminates against a large group of Dominicans on the grounds of their descent and is in violation of the Dominican Republic’s obligations under international and regional human rights law. In particular, we note that the decision contravenes the 2005 judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Yean and Bosico Children v Dominican Republic in which the court found that the Dominican Republic’s failure to grant nationality to two children born to Dominican mothers of Haitian descent was discrimination on grounds of their descent. ERT further shares the deep concern of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, UNICEF, the Open Society Foundations and others that the latest decision will have a devastating effect on hundreds of thousands of people who now face the threat of deportation and who will now struggle to exercise their civil and political and socio-economic rights. ERT joins calls for the Dominican Republic to recognise the citizenship of those affected and to adopt legislation to ensure that others are not rendered stateless by its procedures in future.

United Kingdom

By contrast, on 9 October 2013 the UK Supreme Court issued a robust judgment in which it held that the Secretary of State’s decision to deprive a citizen of his British nationality was unlawful. Mr Al-Jedda arrived in the UK from Iraq in 1992 and sought and was granted asylum. In 2000 he was granted British nationality and so, under Iraqi law, automatically lost his Iraqi nationality. In 2004, Mr Al-Jedda travelled back to Iraq where he was arrested by US forces and held without charge by British forces until 30 December 2007 on suspicion of membership of a terrorist group. Mr Al-Jedda claimed that the imprisonment amounted to a violation of his right to liberty and security and his claim was eventually upheld by the European Court of Human Rights on 12 December 2007. On 14 December 2007, before his release, the Secretary of State, considering it to be conducive to the public good to do so and in accordance with section 40(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981, stripped Mr Al-Jedda of his British citizenship.

Mr Al-Jedda appealed the decision to strip him of his citizenship to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in 2008 arguing that the decision rendered him stateless and so was in violation of section 40(4) British Nationality Act 1981. The Commission rejected Mr Al-Jedda’s claim, holding that he had regained Iraqi citizenship under an Iraqi law in force between 2004-2006 and so was not rendered stateless. In 2010, the Court of Appeal held SIAC’s finding was wrong in law and overturned the Secretary of State’s order. The Secretary of State appealed to the Supreme Court alleging that Mr Al-Jedda’s statelessness was due to his failure to re-apply for Iraqi citizenship between 2004 – 2006 and not due to his loss of British nationality.

The Supreme Court interpreted the British Nationality Act 1981 with reference to two UN Conventions ratified by the UK – the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons 1954 and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness 1961 – and to the 2012 UN High Commissioner for Refugees’s (UNHCR) “Guidelines on Statelessness No 1”, part of which had been incorporated word for word into UK Home Office guidance in May 2013. The Supreme Court held that removing Mr Al-Jedda’s nationality was unlawful. Specifically:

The Court did not accept that it was, in fact, a certainty that had Mr Al-Jedda applied for citizenship from 2004-2006 he would have been granted it. The relevant Iraqi law contained requirements such as the need to reside in Iraq for a year and, in all circumstances, gave the state discretion to deny citizenship, even where the criteria were met.

However, even if citizenship had been granted, in determining whether the decision rendered Mr Al-Jedda stateless, the only issue is whether or not, at the time of the decision, he had another nationality. It was not relevant whether, albeit without a nationality at the date of the decision, Mr Al-Jedda could acquire another nationality with ease. To hold otherwise would be to mire the application of the law on deprivation of citizenship in further complexity.

Although the wording of Article 7 of the 1961 Convention permitted the legislature to deprive a person of citizenship in circumstances where, on so doing, that person may “acquire” citizenship elsewhere the UK legislature had chosen not to include such wording in its national law and the Court would not “place a gloss, as substantial as it is unwarranted” on section 40(4).

UNHCR Guidance, incorporated into UK Home Office guidance, made it clear that a person is either a national or not at the time of a decision. The status of an application to acquire citizenship elsewhere could have no bearing on the decision. “The Secretary of State’s own guidance eloquently [exposed] the fallacy behind her appeal”.

ERT welcomes the Supreme Court’s clear and unequivocal judgment which upholds the principle that the deprivation of citizenship will not be acceptable where it results in a person being rendered stateless. ERT recognises that any laws which permit a deprivation of citizenship may indirectly discriminate against naturalised citizens of foreign origin as the state is more likely to argue that they would not be rendered stateless by a deprivation. ERT hopes that other national courts will take note of this judgment and provide equally robust protection to those most at risk of being rendered stateless.

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رئيس وكالة أسوشايتد برس يتهم أوباما بانتهاك حرية التعبير

اتهم رئيس وكالة أسوشايتد برس غاري برويت إدارة الرئيس الأمريكي أوباما بانتهاك حرية التعبير، معتبرا تنصت وزارة العدل على هواتف مخصصة لمراسلي وكالته “أحد أكبر انتهاكات التعديل الأول للدستور” الأميركي الذي يصون حرية التعبير. وقال برويت السبت 19 أكتوبر/تشرين الأول خلال اجتماع “جمعية الصحافة في البلدان الأميركية” (سيب) إن إدارة الرئيس باراك أوباما “كشفت مصادر معلومات بشكل لم تسبقها إليه أي من الحكومات السابقة”، مقارنا بعض هذه الممارسات بممارسات الأنظمة الاستبدادية. ودعا برويت إلى “الحذر من حكومة تحب السرية كثيرا”، مؤكدا أن الحكومات التي تخيّر مواطنيها بين حرية الصحافة والأمن القومي تحاول ببساطة خلق “معضلة زائفة”. المصدر: RT + “فرانس برس”

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Greek Court Failed to Uphold HIV-positive Worker’s Right to Non-Discrimination, Says European Court

London, 17 October 2013
On 3 October 2013, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that the failure by the Greek Court of Cassation to condemn a private company’s dismissal of an employee, because he was HIV-positive, was a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). Specifically, the Court considered that the failure amounted to a violation of his right to protection from discrimination (Article 14) taken together with his right to a private life (Article 8).

The applicant, Greek national I.B, had been working at a jewellery manufacturers since 2001. In 2005 he informed several colleagues that he feared he may be HIV-positive, a fact which was later confirmed. News of I.B’s condition circulated amongst the company’s 70 employees and, in January and February 2005, I.B’s employer received written petitions from other employees asking that he be dismissed in order to ensure a safe working environment. Following the receipt of a petition signed by 33 employees on 21 February 2005, I.B’s employer dismissed him on 23 February 2005.

I.B took his case to the Greek courts, alleging that his dismissal was unlawful. Although both the Athens Court of First Instance, which found as a matter of fact that the dismissal had been based entirely on I.B’s health status, and the Court of Appeal found the dismissal to be illegal, Greece’s highest court, the Court of Cassation disagreed. The Court of Cassation held that the dismissal was not wrongful as it was done in order to restore harmonious collaboration between employees and the smooth functioning of the company.

I.B brought his case to the ECtHR claiming that Greece had breached his rights to respect for private life (Article 8) and to non-discrimination (Article 14). He argued that the Court of Cassation’s finding that his dismissal because he was HIV-positive was lawful amounted to a violation of his private life. He further argued that his dismissal was discriminatory and could not be justified.

The ECtHR held that Articles 8 and 14 were applicable to I.B’s case. There was no doubt, relying on previous ECtHR decisions, that Article 8 encompassed the work of a person who is HIV-positive – HIV was not just a medical problem but one which impacted on all aspects of an individual’s private life. Further, Article 14 applied because it protected people from discrimination on grounds of their health status, including conditions such as HIV infection, in accordance with the Court’s earlier judgment in Kiyutin v Russia (Application No. 2700/10).

The Court found:

I.B had been treated less favourably than other employees because he was HIV-positive. Such difference in treatment would only be lawful if it could be objectively and reasonably justified, i.e. it could be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Given the ignorance in society about HIV’s effects and the stigma the illness attracts, persons who are HIV-positive are a vulnerable group. Accordingly, any difference in treatment they face will be strictly scrutinised by the court and must be justified by particularly good reasons.
In considering whether the less favourable treatment of I.B was justified, unlike the Court of Appeal, the Court of Cassation had failed to weigh up the various interests at stake with sufficient thought. It had allowed the treatment to be justified on the basis of restoring calm to the business, when the disturbance was caused by the subjective misapprehension by other employees of the effects of HIV.
The Court of Cassation had failed to provide sufficient explanation of why the employer’s interests outweighed those of I.B and had not balanced the rights of the parties in a manner consistent with the requirements of the ECHR.
Accordingly, the Court held that Greece had violated Article 14 of the Convention read together with Article 8.

ERT welcomes the Court’s decision. Persons with HIV continue to suffer widespread prejudice and it is critical that court judgments make clear that this will not be tolerated and is in violation of the persons’ right to non-discrimination. The ECtHR’s judgment makes this point clearly. Further, ERT welcomes the Court’s rejection of the notion that an employer may justify a dismissal which, although not in itself the result of the employer’s prejudice, results from a desire to restore calm amongst employees with prejudicial and misinformed views.

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ملياردير الكوكب..مكافحة الفقر … الاستثمار الأحب إلى كارلوس سليم

ربع مليون عامل يداومون يوميا في شركاته، يربح في الدقيقة الواحدة أكثر من2000 دولار و120 ألفا في الساعة وتقريبا مليونين و900 ألف دولار في اليوم، يلاعب الأرقام كالدمى ويقلبها في رأسه ذات اليمين وذات الشمال حتى تستقر على صفقة ما، هوسه بالأرقام غير محدود، فبعض الأشخاص تعنيهم الكلمات وهو تعنيه الأرقام، فالثروة عنده مثل البستان عليك ان تجعله ينمو ويستمر ليصبح أكبر واكثر تنوعا ومن هذا المنطلق فإذا كنت في المكسيك فلابد ان تشتري سلعة أو خدمة يمتلكها بدءا من شراء السجائر مرورا بتسجيلات الرهن وتناول الوجبات في المطاعم وصولا الى مملكة الاتصالات.
أضاف لقب «أغنى أغنياء العالم» الى سجل انتصاراته الذهبية ليقصي بيل غيتس عن واجهة النفوذ المالي العالمي وليتوجه عقب تتويجه الى بلده الأم لبنان وفي رصيده 53 مليار دولار بثروة هي الأكبر في العالم. يتحاشى السياسة إلا انه يتقن قوانين اللعبة فرغم انه في قلب المواجهة ضد الهيمنة الأميركية في العالم ويحارب مقلدي الأميركيين لكن ذلك لا يمنعه من البحث عن فرص استثمارية في الولايات المتحدة وهو ما نجح فيه حيث تحول الى اكبر مالك لأسهم «ام اس اي» وشركة فيليب موريس وكل ذلك من دون ان يضطر للتحدث باللغة الانجليزية التي يتقنها ويرفض التحدث بها في المناسبات العامة. ولكن رغم بعده عن السياسة ليتجنب التصادم معها ومع أهلها بشكل أو بآخر، فإن ثمة من يتنبأ بمشروع سياسي خاص لـ «كارلوس سليم» يسير به على خطى العديد من رجال الأعمال الذين دخلوا عالم السياسة بعد ذلك.

ولكن البعض يرى ان سليم وإن لم يدخل عالم السياسة علانية فقد دخلها من أبوابها الخلفية، في إشارة لما تردد عن تواطئه مع الرئيس المكسيكي كارلوس ساليتاس في صفقة «تيليميكس» عام 1991 وهي الصفقة التي أوصلته للمكانة التي يحتلها اليوم.

وترجع فصول تلك القصة الى بداية التسعينيات عندما غمر طوفان الخصخصة المكسيك في عهد الرئيس ساليتاس، وفاز سليم بالصفقة بمبلغ 76.1 مليار دولار رغم ان قيمة أملاك الشركة في السوق قدرت بـ 25 مليار دولار، وقد أثار ذلك اتهامات لسليم بأنه واجهة للرئيس المكسيكي في هذه الصفقة خاصة ان الأول قد حصل على تسهيلات في عملية السداد، ولكن ثبت فيما بعد براءة أغنى أغنياء العالم من تلك الاتهامات عندما تم الكشف عن قيمة العروض التي قدمها المنافسون حيث تبين ان عرضه لشراء الشركة هو أكبر العروض المقدمة.

الطاعة للمستشارين

فلسفته في النجاح متعددة الأوجه أولها مبدأ «اشتر رخيص لتنمو بسرعة» يليه الطاعة الدائمة لمستشاريه لأن رجل الأعمال عنده يجب ان يطيع مستشاريه فيما لا يملك خبرة فيه إذ لا يستنكف عن الاتصال هاتفيا بهم في أي وقت لسؤالهم عن معلومة مهما بدت تافهة، كما انه يحرص على الاستفادة من خبرات العاملين معه مهما صغرت مراكزهم. وكل هذا لا يلغي او يقلل من شأن مزايا اخرى يتمتع بها منها الذكاء الشديد الذي تشي به صفقاته العملاقة الناجحة، اضافة الى معرفته الدقيقة بقوانين اللعبة: فهو يفهم تماما أبعاد ما يدور حوله في لعبة المال ويتعامل من هذا المنطلق.

وثمة صفة اخرى يتمتع بها وهي انه ذو أعصاب فولاذية تفيد كثيرا في التعامل مع عالم الاقتصاد الشرس، فعلى سبيل المثال عشية فض عروض احدى المناقصات جمع زوجته وأولاده الستة، وأقسموا معا بأنهم إن وفقوا في مسعاهم، فلن يبيعوا أسهمهم «قبل جيلين».

خلافة بيل غيتس

الاستثمار الأفضل عنده هو مكافحة الفقر وأعماله الخيرية من الأساسيات لديه وقد اختلف في احدى السنوات مع منافسه بيل غيتس بشأن آلية توجيه العمل الخيري، فقد تهكم سليم من مؤسسة منافسه الخيرية قائلا إن مشكلة الفقر لا تحل بالتبرعات بل بتوسيع قطاع أعمال يخدم أعدادا أكبر بدلا من القيام بدور «بابا نويل» على حد تعبيره.

وقد أنشأ سليم مؤسسة لتقديم خدمات اجتماعية وتعليمية بميزانية 8.1 مليارات دولار، بل انه وعد بتقديم 10 مليارات خلال 4 سنوات لحل مشاكل الصحة والتعليم في المكسيك، ورغم انه سخر من طريقة التبرعات إلا ان جمعيته قدمت 95 ألف دراجة للأطفال الفقراء لتكون وسيلة انتقالهم الى المدارس، و70 ألف نظارة كما قدم 15 الف منحة دراسية لطلاب الجامعة، ويسهم في مشاريع مساعدة المفرج عنهم من السجناء على الاندماج في المجتمع من جديد، كما وزع 250 الف كمبيوتر على الأولاد الفقراء في المكسيك وأميركا الوسطى بمبلغ 70 مليون دولار عام 2007.

تواضع أرستقراطي

لا يعيش سليم نمط حياة أثرى الأثرياء رغم ثرائه الفاحش حيث لا يولي اهتماما بأناقته الشخصية ولا حتى بمكتبه، فملابسه لا تدل على انه ملياردير هذا الكوكب، ويقع مكتبه ومبنى شركته الرئيسي في مبنى قديم في وسط العاصمة المكسيكية وتلك البناية محاطة بناطحات السحاب، وحجم مكتبه لا يتعدى مساحة مكتب أي موظف عادي.

وكارلوس يفضل على ملابس مصممي الأزياء المشهورين الاهتمام بمتحفه الخاص.

ولايزال سليم يقطن في المنزل نفسه في المكسيك منذ 40 عاما ويقود سيارته المرسيدس القديمة لكن المدرعة وترافقه مجموعة من الحراس، يتحاشى اليخوت والطائرات الخاصة وأساليب حياة النخبة في المكسيك، في الآونة الأخيرة سلّم «الإمبراطور» الإدارة اليومية لشركاته الى ابنائه الثلاثة وبعض شركائه في العمل.

البيسبول والفنون

عاشق للعبة البيسبول الأميركية ومولع بالفنون من لوحات ومنحوتات، فقد أنفق الكثير ليبني «سنترو ديستريكت» وسط العاصمة المكسيكية وهو مشروع ضخم لإعادة الحياة الى الحي التاريخي، فحول المكان من مرتع للجرائم الى منطقة للسياح والفنانين الذين يستأجرون عمارات فارعة ويبنون استديوهاتهم ومعارضهم بأسعار زهيدة، ويقول موقع «ذي نيو انترناشيوناليست» على الانترنت: ان كارلوس دفع 4.3 ملايين دولار لعمدة مدينة نيويورك السابق رودي جولياني للمساعدة في الإعداد لخطة تهديم قلب المدينة القديم، وليس هذا صعبا على العمدة الذي حول نيويورك الى مدينة ممنوعة على الفقراء.

كارلوس الورقي

يعتبر كارلوس نفسه أحد من يقبلون على قراءة الصحف بنهم ويصف نفسه بأنه من «الجيل الورقي» لكنه يعتقد بوجود تحول باتجاه الصورة الرقمية للأخبار، التي دفعت بشركات الصحف في أتون نضال كبير من أجل البقاء، ويشبه سليم هذه الشركات بشركات النقل في بداية القرن العشرين التي دخلت في صراع مع ظهور السيارات التي تعمل بمحركات، حيث أفلس من تمسكوا بالخيول.

ومع امتلاكه شركات في مجالات الاتصال عن بعد يهيمن حلو على الساحة الإعلامية إلا ان ذلك لم يمنع من توجيه انتقادات عديدة له حيث نشر عنه مرة رسما كاريكاتيريا يصوره كملاكم ملقى على الأرض بالضربة القاضية من منافس قزم، فيما تظهر حلقة الملاكمة ذات حبال من أسلاك التلفونات، كما قدمه برنامج تلفزيوني هزلي على هيئة دمية يقوم المارة بإلقامها الفطائر بعنف.

ولم يتوقف الهجوم عند حد الهزل بل امتد الى كتابة أكاديمية رزينة كـ «دينيس دريسر» في معهد التكنولوجيا المكسيكي التي تقول في مقال لها ان سعي «سليم» لإغلاق الباب أمام أي منافسات جادة يضر الاقتصاد المكسيكي في المقام الأول.

من جانبه، هاجم جورج جريسون خبير سياسات اميركا اللاتينية ـ ما أسماه بـ «سياسة الـ 100 عائلة» التي تتحكم في ثروات المكسيك ويديرها (كارلوس سليم). لتجنب الاتهام بالاحتكار بصفة قانونية.

ومع بداية عام 2009 استثمر مبلغ 250 مليون دولار، في المجموعة التي تصدر صحيفة نيويورك تايمز ويحسن بذلك أوضاعها المالية المتردية ويسمح هذا الاستثمار لـ «نيويورك تايمز» بإعادة تمويل ديونها خصوصا مع القرض الدائم بقيمة 400 مليون دولار.

وفي مقال خصص لهذه العملية كتبت الصحيفة ان سليم لن يكون ممثلا في مجلس إدارة الشركة ولن تكون له حقوق تصويت في مقابل استثماره.

أصعب مكالمة في حياته

ان «العائلة تأتي أولا» لأن المال الكثير «لا يتعارض مع الحياة الشخصية والعائلة».. هكذا يقول كارلوس سليم الذي عرف عنه عشقه لعائلته خصوصا لزوجته سمية ضومط التي توفيت عام 99 حيث لا ينسى لحظة وفاتها ونقله الخبر لأبنائه حيث كانت المكالمة على قصرها أصعب مكالمة هاتفية يجريها طوال حياته: «آلو «سمية» ماتت في… لا يتذكر «كارلوس» انه استطاع من فرط الصدمة اتمام المكالمة التي أجراها لأبنائه ينعى لهم والدتهم، فمنذ دقائق كانت تجلس في المقعد المجاور له في الطائرة تذكره بذكريات سعادتهما الطويلة وفجأة سكنت بين يديه، في البداية اعتقد انها نائمة إلا ان سباتها طال، وهنا أدرك الحقيقة فقد ماتت رفيقة كفاحه.

ولم يكن خافيا على أحد مقدار الحب الذي يكنه كارلوس لزوجته الراحلة، فقد اعتاد ـ رغم مسؤولياته المتزايدة ـ ان يخصص وقتا لأسرته يغلق فيه هاتفه في وجه الملايين تاركا ادارة أعماله لمساعديه أما الوقت الذي يقضيه مع الأسرة فتهون أمامه كل صفقات العالم.

وإذا بكى سليم عند سماعه نبأ كونه أغنى الأغنياء فلن تكون دموع فرح فحسب بل تختلط بدموع الحزن لذكرى زوجته التي يتمنى لو كانت معه وشهدت هذا اليوم الذي طالما حلما به معا.

بداية السلم

عندما بلغ الثانية عشرة توفي والده فما كان منه إلا أن أصر على القيام بدور والده في تجارة العائلة التي اخذت في النمو باطراد ونجح في التوفيق بين دراسته والعمل.

التحق «سليم» بكلية الهندسة التي تخرج فيها بتفوق، وسرعان ما أسس شركة للبناء لاقت نجاحا كبيرا جعلت المهندس الشاب يغتنم العديد من الفرص التي وضعت قدميه على طريق الملايين، ومن هذه الفرص شراء معمل لإنتاج علب السجائر ثم تملك أول شركة لصناعة السجائر في المكسيك، ويمضي قدما من نجاح الى آخر حتى أصبح رئيسا لأكبر شركة تأمين ونائبا لرئيس البورصة وبعدها أنشأ شركة كبرى للعقارات أسهمت كثيرا في نمو أعماله.

وثمة محطة مهمة في مشوار «سليم» الناجح وهي شراؤه شركة «سيجاتام» التي توزع سجائر «مارلبورو» في المكسيك، وقد مكنته تلك الصفقة من توفير رأسمال ضخم مؤقت يحصل عليه بتأخير سداد قيمة السجائر الى خزانة الدولة لأسابيع يتمكن خلالها من تدويرها في أعماله، وبهذه الطريقة نجح في شراء أكبر محلات البقالة، وعدد من المطاعم وأكبر مصنع للأدوات الصحية.

وجاءت صفقة شركة المكسيك للاتصالات «تليميكس» لتكون درة التاج في مجموعة أعماله منذ شرائها في بداية التسعينيات حتى الآن.

وقد اشترت شركة «أميركا موبيل» التابعة لمجموعته كل شركات الهواتف الجوالة على مستوى اميركا اللاتينية حتى وصل عدد المشتركين فيها الى 100 مليون مشترك، هذا عدا عن امتلاكه بنكا و5 شركات تأمين تدر نصف مليار دولار، وشركتي تعدين، وشركة تصنيع قطع غيار السيارات، وشركة لإنتاج الكمبيوتر، واخرى للاسمنت، كما بدأ الاستثمار في مجال شركات الطيران.

ماجدة الرومي والقلب المفتوح

ولايزال سليم يذكر تلك الليلة عشية اجرائه عملية قلب مفتوح قبيل وفاة زوجته عندما ادارت له اغنية للفنانة اللبنانية مواطنته في بلاد الاجداد ماجدة الرومي تسأل فيها المطربة «أغدا عندما يدخلون قلبك الجريح اتراهم يقرأون فيه اسمي؟» وأعانته الكلمات العربية المعدودة التي يعرفها على فهم المعنى فأجاب زوجته من بين دموعه: نعم سيقرأونه ولن يقرأوا غيره في قلبي، وانهمرا في البكاء ليبكيها وحده فيما بعد.

كارلوس ونزار قباني

مع وفاة زوجته سمية ضومط والتي كانت الأقرب إلى قلبه، فكر سليم في تخليد ذكراها وهنا تذكر بلاد الأجداد وما سمعه عن شاعر سوري اسمه نزار قباني خلد اسم زوجته الراحلة بلقيس في ديوان شعر لا يضاهيه وفاء إلا ديوان «من وحي امرأة» للشاعر المصري عبدالرحمن صدقي الذي ضمنه عشرات القصائد في ذكرى زوجته الإيطالية التي ماتت قبل ان يولد كارلوس نفسه لكنه لا يميل الى الأدب الذي يخاصم المتعاملين مع الأرقام فاتجه بفكره شرقا متمثلا الملك الهندي شاه جهان وتخليده زوجته (ممتاز محل) فقرر ان يطلق على الشركة الام في امبراطوريته الاقتصادية اسم «كارسو» الذي يتكون من مزيج من اسمه واسم زوجته.

كما اطلق اسمها على متحف خاص انشأه ليضم مجموعة فنية هي الأندر في العالم واختار له اسم متحف سمية نظرا لأن اقتناء الأعمال الفنية عشق خاص لديه حتى انه جمع فيه نحو 120 قطعة للنحات الفرنسي اوجست رودان.

الجذور اللبنانية والنزاع التركي

عقب إعلانه اثرى اثرياء العالم اشارت صحيفة «ميليت» التركية في عددها الصادر في 12 مارس 2010 الى ان كارلوس سليم من اصل تركي هاجر اجداده من لبنان عام 1902، فرغم ولادة كارلوس في 28 يناير 1940 في مكسيكو إلا ان والد كارلوس لبناني من قرية جزين الجنوبية هرب في سن المراهقة من حكم العثمانيين في المنطقة العربية، لينزل في مرفأ تنبيكو المكسيكي عام 1902 برفقة ابيه واخويه الاثنين، وانتقلت عائلة سليم عام 1911 الى العاصمة مكسيكو حيث اسست متجرا لبيع المواد المنزلية، اطلقت عليه اسم La Estrella Del Oriente اي نجمة الشرق. وينقل كارلوس عن ابيه ان جده كان يشتري اراضي وشققا في مدينة مكسيكو في عز الثورة، التي بدأت في العقد الثاني من القرن العشرين، فأخذ ابناء الجالية يحذرونه من الظرف الدقيق، فكان يجيبهم: على العكس انه احسن ظرف فالأسعار منخفضة والاراضي والشقق لن تغادر المكسيك الى اي مكان آخر.

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