Tag Archives: Advocacy Group / Pressure Group / Lobbies

An Australian coronavirus outbreak raises concerns over online child sex abuse | Instant News

KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Australian police on Tuesday warned of “bad” online predators targeting new child victims after a surge in corona virus infection that put the country’s second largest city under partial locking.

The Australian health authority said it would take weeks to tame the COVID-19 outbreak after hundreds of new cases were reported in the state of Victoria, whose capital Melbourne was partially locked.

The steps encourage Australian federal police to urge parents to ensure their children are not victims of “dangerous online predators”, after cases of abuse surged during national lockdown in March.

Traffic to websites containing online child sexual abuse content skyrocketed during previous lockouts and such material posted on the dark web doubled, police said.

“We suspect that the perpetrators will use the second wave of COVID-19 as an opportunity to find more potential child victims, because young people spend more time online with limited adult supervision,” said police commander Jamie Strauss.

“Our message to online criminals has not changed – if you obtain, access and send child abuse material, you will be found, arrested and prosecuted,” he added in a statement.

From Europe to Asia, cases of child sexual abuse online have surged during coronavirus locking because children spend more time online, making them more vulnerable to abusers.

In Australia, child exploitation has increased in recent years. Nearly 22,000 cases were reported between July 2019 and June 2020, up nearly 50% from last year, official figures show.

“Sex offenders are always online, that’s their playground,” said Karen Flanagan, head of Australian child protection at the charity Save the Children.

“But COVID-19 might give them access to new groups of children who previously did not spend much time online,” he said last week, urging more parental supervision.

State authorities in Victoria reported on Tuesday 374 new COVID-19 cases, up from 275 on Monday, reducing hopes of slowing infection two weeks after nearly 5 million people were told to stay at home except for important reasons.

Australia has recorded around 12,000 cases of the corona virus and more than 125 deaths.

Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Thomson Reuters charity branch, which covers the lives of people throughout the world who are struggling to live free or just. Visit http://news.trust.org


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British MPs, retailers call for action to prevent the exploitation of garment workers | Instant News

LONDON (Reuters) – A group of 50 British MPs, retailers such as Marks & Spencer and New Look, and investors and NGOs on Monday called for immediate action to prevent the exploitation of garment factory workers in Britain.

Their joint letter, which was coordinated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) industry lobby group and addressed to the interior minister Priti Patel, requested the introduction of a garment factory legal license to ensure they all met their legal obligations to employees.

The letter was published after recent media reports about workers who were paid below the minimum wage, were not given personal protective equipment (PPE) and worked in unsafe conditions.

The UK minimum wage is 8.72 pounds ($ 10.95) for people over 25 years and 8.20 pounds for people aged 21 to 24 years.

The BRC said it and its members have long called for greater law enforcement by the authorities to support the actions taken by retailers to ensure fair treatment of workers and to encourage businesses to invest in British fashion manufacturing.

“Recent reports in the media indicate the need for immediate action before more workers are utilized,” said BRC CEO Helen Dickinson.

The letter said the proposed licensing scheme would protect workers from forced labor and ill-treatment, ensure tax payments and create an equal playing field for businesses to compete fairly by preventing rogue producers from lowering prices.

This will also encourage retailers to get their clothing from the UK, supporting the development of this industry.

Signatory retailers include ASOS (ASOS.L), Walmart (WMT.N) owned by Asda, M&S (MKS.L), Morrisons (MRW.L), N Brown (BWNG.L), Joules (JOUL.L), New Look, River and Matalan Islands.

Online fashion retailer Boohoo (BOOH.L) is not a signatory. He wrote his own letter to Patel on Friday supporting the licensing scheme.

“We fully support the BRC and other proposals regarding the need to apply permits according to the law of the garment factory owner and manager,” said a spokesman for Boohoo.

Signatory investors include Allianz Global Investors, Columbia Thread Investments, Fidelity International, Jupiter Asset Management and Schroders Investment Management.

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Alexandra Hudson


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With Bolsonaro Brazil attacking the Supreme Court, are gay rights at risk? | Instant News

RIO DE JANEIRO / MEXICO CITY, July 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A gay man who grew up in Brazil, Afif Sarhan was banned from donating blood for most of his life.

“I thought, ‘Why is my blood lower than others?'” Sarhan, a 41-year-old civil servant from the southwestern state of Goias, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It is my right as a human being to help people and stay who I am.”

That all changed in May when the Brazilian high court overturned the ban on gay men who gave blood – the latest in more than half a dozen decisions made in support of LGBT + rights.

Over the years, the court has been a major driver of LGBT + achievement in Brazil, with little action from Congress in a very religious country where the Catholic Church and popular evangelical Christian movements often criticize gay rights.

With President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain famous for making homophobic statements and praising the 1964-1985 state dictatorship, becoming increasingly critical of the judiciary, some fear that the progress of LGBT + could now be at risk.

The conservative leader said last month that the Supreme Court “committed an offense” and it was time to put “everything in its proper place” after the court passed an investigation into the claims Bolsonaro made with the police for personal motives.

The court, commonly known as the STF, also investigated demonstrations supported by Bolsonaro who called for military intervention in politics and the closure of the Supreme Court and Congress, triggering concerns for young Brazilian democracy.

In one protest last month, Bolsonaro supporters threw fireworks toward the Supreme Court building. A protest leader, who threatened violence against several Supreme Court judges, was later arrested.

“Bolsonaro’s attack on the STF is a direct and frontal attack on one of the pillars of democracy,” said David Miranda, a gay congressman with the left opposition Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL).

“With some subtle decisions and constitutional changes, we can lose the rights we have conquered.”

A Bolsonaro government spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.


The LGBT + problem remains divisive in Brazil, which has the largest Catholic community in the world and a growing evangelical population among the urban poor, which shifts politics to the right.

The country is also one of the most dangerous in the world for gays and trans, with 297 LGBT + murders last year, according to watchdog group Grupo Gay da Bahia.

Because of widespread conservatism in Brazilian politics and society, most activists turn to the courts instead of Congress to secure LGBT + rights.

“The Brazilian legislature is occupied by conservative forces and has a very large religious fundamentalist bench,” said Renan Quinalha, a law professor at the Federal University of Sao Paulo.

“(So) LGBT groups have begun through the Supreme Court, carrying out strategic litigation and advocacy to achieve victory in justice.”

The strategy worked.

This year, the Supreme Court allowed the Netflix streaming platform to continue showing films that portray Jesus as gay, despite national protests, and also imposed local laws prohibiting teaching about gender and sexual orientation in schools.

He also chose to criminalize homophobia and transphobia last year, and in 2018 decided that the government could not ask trans people to undergo operations to legally change their gender.

When Congress tried hard to pass a gay marriage law, the judiciary took the lead to legalize it in 2013.


Despite Bolsonaro’s war of words, legal experts say it is not possible to interfere directly with the court. “It looks like I’m not (the Supreme Court) at risk,” Quinalha said.

“I think the STF succeeded in positioning itself very well before the government … investigating threats and calls for violence against the minister and the court itself.”

But activists fear that LGBT + rights will be canceled ahead of the 2022 election because Bolsonaro will appoint two new judges to the 11-member Supreme Court.

In Brazil, Supreme Court judges retire at the age of 75, with the president filling in the blanks. In 2020, Celso de Mello, the longest serving judge in retirement, will retire, followed in 2021 by Marco Aurelio Mello.

If Bolsonaro is re-elected, he will be able to make two more promises in 2023 because two more judges will reach retirement age.

“If you have a different majority in the Supreme Court, you can change the previous decision,” Quinalha said.

And it’s not just a matter of having a conservative majority in court. In Brazil, a single Supreme Court judge can withstand an unlimited ruling by saying they need more time to review the case before they vote.

In urgent cases, judges can also make unilateral decisions, such as issuing orders, that apply until all courts have time to vote, which can take years.


While the legal strategies of LGBT + activists have provided a historic victory, observers are concerned that they are not deeply rooted like the laws chosen in Congress, which attract more public debate, lobbying and media coverage.

Popular opinions about LGBT + rights are still deeply divided in Brazil, unlike neighboring Argentina, where gay marriage passed through Congress in 2010 and sparked heated public discussion.

“In places where there are social debates around the rights of LGBT people, the process of discussion and debate makes it easier for people to adjust to new realities,” said Leandro Ramos, Brazilian director for LGBT + All Out rights groups.

“The fact that this debate has never taken place in Congress (Brazil) has made these rights more vulnerable.”

Brazilian lawmakers and the constituencies they represent rarely have to debate LGBT + issues, potentially making the victory fought for more vulnerable under a conservative court.

“The law is more consolidated because it also expresses debate in public opinion … so it’s more difficult to modify,” Quinalha said.

For now, LGBT + Brazil enjoys the newly discovered rights granted to them by the country’s highest court.

Sarhan, a civil servant in Goias, returned to give blood last month, six years after being rejected – this time, his sexual choices never arose.

“It’s very nice to contribute, and I don’t have any questions about sexual orientation,” he said.

Reported by Oscar Lopez @oscarlopezgib and Fabio Teixeira; editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charity branch of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people throughout the world who are struggling to live free or just. Visit http://news.trust.org


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UPDATE 1-Brazilian pork, chicken exports are seen increasing in 2020, driven by China | Instant News

(Change title, add details of the conference call)

By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO, July 15 (Reuters) – Brazilian pork and chicken exports are projected to increase in 2020 as local meat producers continue to increase production during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet strong Chinese demand, according to data from the ABPA lobbying group released Wednesday .

Pork exports can grow as much as 33% to 1 million tons this year while chicken exports are ready to increase by 5% to 4,450 million tons, ABPA executives said at a press conference.

The entity has reaffirmed its June sales forecast of around 1 million tons of pork and chicken to China in 2020, up from 834,000 tons last year.

In the first half, China imported nearly 600,000 tons of meat from Brazil, because the port of the South American country was virtually uninterrupted during the COVID-19 health crisis, which facilitated export flows.

Brazil has 64 factories approved to sell chickens and pigs to China, but in the last few days four units in the state of Rio Grande do Sul were banned by China because of the COVID-19 outbreak among meat factory workers.

While ABPA member companies have assured Chinese buyers of COVID-19-free local products, meat cargos destined for Asian countries are not tested before delivery, ABPA executives said. (Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Marguerita Choy)


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The Brazilian meat lobby rejects rules for removing food factory workers amid a pandemic | Instant News

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The meat lobby group has asked the government of Paraná, the largest producing and exporting state of chickens in Brazil, to reconsider local regulations aimed at increasing the distance between food factory workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a letter seen by Reuters. on Friday.

FILE PHOTOS: Employees work during a technical visit by Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi (not pictured) at the Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA in the city of Lapa, Parana state, Brazil, 21 March 2017. REUTERS / Ueslei Marcelino

The meat lobby believes that the minimum distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) required under state norms will reduce production by as much as 43%, the Brazilian animal protein association, ABPA and two local trade groups said in a joint letter sent on July 2.

The average distance of workers at pigs and poultry facilities is 0.85 centimeters (0.33 inches), the letter said.

Federal rules were passed on June 19 dealing with Brazilian slaughterhouse operations amid a pandemic that would win over state norms, the meat lobby letter said. The federal rule only requires a physical distance of one meter, which labor representatives in three southern states told Reuters was not enough.

According to industry, a distance of one meter will represent an 18% reduction in output.

Responding to the company’s attitude, the Head of the Paraná Labor Attorney Margaret de Carvalho requested an “urgent meeting” with the governor on Thursday, according to a separate letter seen by Reuters.

He defended the enforcement of local regulations that were sustainable, because meat packing became a hotbed for the new corona virus.

“Around 16 slaughterhouses have or still have an outbreak, with six units recording more than 100 cases each,” said Carvalho’s letter.

In a statement on Friday, ABPA, which represents meat producers, including JBS SA and BRF SA, reaffirmed the position stated in the July 2 letter.

“Harmonization of standards will guarantee legal security for producers,” said ABPA, stressing the need to keep jobs and maintain food supplies.

Santa Catarina, the largest pork producing state in Brazil, is also considering revoking its own more protective regulations for slaughterhouse operations during the pandemic, a move criticized by local labor representatives.

Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Aurora Ellis


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