Five international stories from this week unrelated to COVID-19

New Zealand lawmakers passed a bill to decriminalise abortion. Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

While the world’s attention was on Coronavirus, here are five international stories you might have missed this week.

New Zealand passes law decriminalising abortion

On 18 March, New Zealand lawmakers passed a bill to decriminalise abortion.

The new law would allow unrestricted access to termination during the first half of pregnancy. Restrictions were also relaxed in those carried out in the later half of pregnancy, which opponents to the bill say denotes access right until the moment of birth.

New Zealand’s existing law, which had been in place since 1977, treated abortion as a crime, and required women to prove to doctors that they were in mental or physical danger from the pregnancy.

Lawmakers voted 68 to 51 in favour of the bill. Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern pledged to bring the issue to a vote while campaigning to be elected in 2017.

Anti-Semetic group banned in Germany, homes raided

On 19 March, in 10 German states, German police raided premises linked to a Neo-Nazi group accused of practicing anti-government and racist ideology. The group, who are known as United German Peoples and Tribes, were banned by Germany’s top security official. This ban is the first for a group who are associated with the Reichsbuerger movement.

Reichsbuerger, or Reich citizens, reject the German government and see it as a kind of corporate organisation rather than a governing body, and promote the idea of ‘natural rights.’

The raids were carried out by some 400 officers in residences of around 20 leaders of the group, and confiscated firearms, propaganda and drugs.

Four men executed in India 

Four Indian men hanged
Four Indian men were hanged this week for the gang rape and murder of a student in 2012.
Delhi Police

On 20 March, four Indian men, who were found guilty of raping and murdering a student on a moving bus in 2012, were hanged.

The execution is the first carried out in India since 2015.

The rape and murder of the student sparked outrage globally and in India led to new anti-rape laws which made stalking a crime, and introduced the death sentence for convicted rapists.

The convicted group, who tortured and raped the 23-year-old before discarding her out of the bus, were six men - one of who hanged himself in his prison cell in 2013. One was a juvenile, and served a three-year term.

The remainder, Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh were sentenced to death by a trial court in 2013.

Putin could remain in power until 2036

President Putin
President Putin.

Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled on Monday that it was legal to change the constitution in a way that could allow President Putin to remain in power for two more consecutive six-year terms.

The decision was made less than a week after the President backed the idea. It will still require nationwide endorsement by way of a vote, which is planned for 22nd April.

If the constitutional amendment goes ahead and President Putin remains in office, he will be 82 years old in 2036.

Vladmir Putin first became Russia’s President in 2000.

Greenland and Antarctica lost an unprecedented amount of ice in 2019

New research released this week has found that due to a warm Arctic summer in 2019, Greenland has been shedding ice at a faster rate than ever before. The loss of ice – to the tune of 600 billion tonnes -  is enough to raise the sea levels by 2.2mm in just two months, according to the paper submitted to the American Geophysical Union.

Antarctica continued to lose ice en masse as well, but the researchers said the effect was softened by an increase of snow-fall on the eastern side of the continent.

Source AAP, Reuters - SBS