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16/01/2021
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Venezuela to shut all-powerful National Constituent Assembly

Maduro said the assembly, a pro-gov’t legislature created in 2017, will cease operations by the end of the year.

Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly, a pro-government legislature created in 2017 that was widely criticised for undermining democracy, will cease operations by the end of the year.

President Nicolas Maduro said the assembly, known as the ANC, is no longer necessary following December 6 elections that will usher in a new parliament dominated by ruling Socialist Party legislators.

The current parliament’s term ends on January 5.

Maduro in 2017 called for the creation of the ANC following months of opposition protests that left more than 100 people dead.

The all-powerful institution was officially designated to reform the constitution, but in practice ended up supplanting the opposition-controlled legislature and sacking public officials who challenged the government.

Despite being in existence for three years, the ANC did not reform the constitution.

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‘India's Right to Information Act helped change the culture of governance’.–Nikhil Dey

 Nikhil DeyMr. Dey is a rights activist, founder of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and a firm believer in Participatory Democracy.

Using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to prevent the usual modes of democracy to operate, the present Indian government is making too many fundamental changes to policy and legislation.

New Delhi, Dec. 18.– India’s Right to Information (RTI) Act, which was promulgated in 2005, is considered one of the most advanced and powerful pieces of rights legislation in the world. Although an evolved law that forces governments to become more transparent and accountable, almost every regime has shown reluctance to uphold the spirit of the law. In 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government managed to amend the Act in a manner that allowed it to wrest control of an independent institution.

In an interview with Frontline, Nikhil Dey, well-known rights activist and founder of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), the organisation that spearheaded the RTI, spoke about the resilience of the Act, its ability to withstand government pushback and how it could even help with the COVID-19 pandemic. Nikhil Dey, a believer in participatory democracy, said that “in a democracy, people are the sovereign. It is their right to ask. If you are stopping people you are stopping the sovereign.” Excerpts:

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Morocco agrees to normalize Relations with Israel

  • President Trump Middle East Peace initiative keeps going ahead as the Kingdom of Morocco agreed to normalize relations with Israel, making it the latest in a string of majority-Muslim countries to do so.
  • Trump Removes Sudan From Terror Sponsor Blacklist, prompting African Country to Normalize Relations with Israel too. The Magreb & the Middle East

Washington DC, Dec.12.– Senior advisor to the president Jared Kushner told reporters shortly after the president’s announcement that Morocco — like other signatories onto the Abraham Accords — will immediately open liaison offices in Israel, start scheduling direct flights from the country to Israel, and foster “cooperation” between companies in both nations.

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USA: Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) spoke at same 2013 event as alleged Chinese Spy who worked for Senator Feinstein

GOP Complaint Demands House Ethics Committee Investigate Swalwell Amid CCP Spy Report. 

Dec. 11 (Daily Caller News).– Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) spoke at an event in 2013 along with a former staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) who is alleged to have spied for the Chinese government.

The group that hosted Swalwell and Russell Lowe, the Feinstein staffer, was led by Christine Fang, who herself is alleged to have worked as a Chinese secret agent from 2011 to 2015.

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European Convention on access to official documents enters into force

Strasbourg, Dec.1.– The Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents, the first binding international legal instrument to recognise a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities, entered into force today. The treaty, also known as the Tromsø Convention, after the city in Norway where it was opened for signature, entered into force in respect of ten Council of Europe member states - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, the Republic of Moldova, Sweden and Ukraine. The convention entered into force three months after its ratification by Ukraine, the tenth state to ratify it.

The right to access to official documents held by public authorities is essential to transparency, good governance, freedom of speech and participatory democracy and it facilitates the exercise of other human rights and fundamental freedoms. Access to official documents enables citizens to form an opinion on the state of the society which they live and the governing authorities. It enables citizens’ awareness of public affairs and their informed participation in decision-making processes. It is also very important for free and independent media outlets, journalists and other media actors to have legal and guaranteed access to information and official documents in order to inform the public. The Tromsø Convention provides a framework of legal principles in respect of all these democratic goals and sets out a number of basic guarantees regarding the right to access of official documents.

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