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Workers outraged by new ''slave law'' sparking ongoing protests in Budapest
by Euronews, agencies
15 Dec. 2018
Protesters clashed with police in the Hungarian capital Budapest for a third night during ongoing demonstrations against new legislation that has been dubbed the "slave law".
The change allows employers to ask staff to work up to 400 extra hours per year of overtime. It could amount to another eight hours a week for some workers, equivalent to an extra working day.
The amendment that has also enraged unions is that employers will be able to delay payments for the extra hours for up to three years.
The legislation was pushed through by Prime Minister Viktor Orban''s ruling far right Fidesz party on Wednesday by way of their parliamentary majority.
Opposition MP''s sought to block the vote and some held up a banner reading "Thank you Fidesz" with "Year of the Families" crossed out and "Year of the Slaves" written instead.
Protesters shouting "Traitors, traitors" and "Orban go to hell" faced off against hundreds of police who stood on the steps of the parliament building.
Viktor Orban''s government has built a system observers describe as autocratic, corrupt, that seeks control of academia, the courts and the media.
People have also been angered by a new law passed on the same day to set up courts overseen directly by the justice minister Laszlo Trocsanyi, a close Orban ally, leading to warnings of near-total political influence over the judicial system.
The administrative courts will take over cases about government business, public procurements, taxation and election procedures currently handled in the formerly independent legal system. Protestors say it will allow political interference in judicial matters and further undermine the rule of law.
In a statement, the rights group the Helsinki Committee said the law "is a serious threat to the rule of law in Hungary and runs counter to values Hungary signed up to when it joined the European Union."
Anger over the legislation has prompted opposition parties across the spectrum, who accuse Orban and his ruling Fidesz party of steering Hungary toward authoritarianism, to join forces during the protests. A fourth demonstration will take place on Sunday in Budapest that trade unions will join.


Closure of public schools and commercialisation of education in Mauritania spark alarm
by Oceane Blavot
Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
14th Dec. 2018
Mauritanian civil society has launched a new report on privatisation and commercialisation of education in Mauritania. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), in its final recommendations on Mauritania, expressed deep concern regarding ‘the recent closure with no apparent replacement of six public schools in Nouakchott, the high illiteracy rates, the limited availability of preschool education and primary schools, and the proliferation of private schools that make quality education prohibitively expensive for children living in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations’.
Mauritania allowed in 2016 the closure of six public schools in the centre of the capital city, Nouakchott. This led to the permanent de-schooling of thousands of children. The State was unable to provide clarity on why such actions were taken or any precautionary measures taken to avoid the loss of access to education for these children.
The CRC members also raised serious concerns about the insufficient monitoring of private and Koranic schools, as well as the poor quality of education in the public-school system.
A group of organisations formed by the association of women head of families (AFCF), the coalition of Mauritanian organisations for education (COMEDUC) and the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) had raised many of these issues, following a one-year research project on the effects of the growing commercialisation of education in Mauritania on human rights.
The research showed a dramatic growth of private education in Mauritania over the last 16 years with the number of students in private schools increasing eightfold over this period, without an adequate regulatory and monitoring framework.
This has negatively affected the right to education by increasing inequality and discrimination, limiting access to free-quality education and the protection of education as a non-commercial right.
According to Sidi Boudide, the chair of the coalition of Mauritanian organisations for education (COMEDUC), it is not only the realisation of the right to education of children which is affected, but also ‘the sale of the Mauritanian education heritage, with the closing, for the benefit of the government, of Nouakchott''s historic schools having trained an entire generation of current government officials.’
The Committee recommended that Mauritania, among other things, ‘Develop a policy aimed at monitoring the quality of Koranic schools, particularly in terms of their structure, management and curriculums’ and ‘Reduce the discriminatory effects of privatization and private education against children from financially disadvantaged families and establish mechanisms to monitor the compliance of private schools with minimum educational standards, curriculum requirements and qualifications for teachers.’
Aminettou Mint Moctar, the President of the association of women head of families (AFCF), called on ‘all Mauritanians, all the diaspora, to support advocacy to denounce the commercialisation of education, as their country cannot develop without quality education.
They must show solidarity in denouncing the sale of schools, and demand that the content of school and education be improved. We therefore call for the mobilisation of all Mauritanians to demand a healthy education that respects the rule of law and meets the current needs of society and our development. Let us denounce hands in hand the commercialisation of education and the closure of public schools.’

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