Archive | March, 2012

UN expert calls on India to fight impunity for extrajudicial executions

Posted on 31 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Sunday, 1st  April 2012

UN News – Human Rights – 30 March 2012 –

While commending India’s generally high level of commitment to human rights, a United Nations expert today urged the Government to continue to fight impunity for extrajudicial executions, and communal and traditional killings.The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, said he recognized the size, complexity, security concerns and diversity of India – however, he remains concerned that the challenges with respect to the protection of the right to life in the country are still considerable.

“Evidence gathered confirmed the use of so-called ‘fake encounters’ in certain parts of the country. Where this happens, a scene of a shoot-out is created, in which people who have been targeted are projected as the aggressors who shot at the police and were then killed in self-defence,” he told reporters in New Delhi at the end of a two-week mission to India.

He added, “Moreover, in the north-eastern states, and Jammu and Kashmir, the armed forces have wide powers to employ lethal force.”

This is exacerbated, the expert said, by the high level of impunity that the police and armed forces enjoy, due to the requirement that any prosecutions require sanction from the central government – something that is rarely granted.

“The main difficulty in my view has been these high levels of impunity,” stressed the Special Rapporteur, who reports to the UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity.

Mr. Heyns also pointed to other areas of concern. These include the prevalence of communal violence, and, in some areas, the killing of so-called witches, as well as dowry and so-called “honour” killings, and the plight of dalits [untouchables] and adivasis [tribal people].

He called for the establishment of a commission of inquiry, consisting of respected lawyers and other community leaders, to further investigate all aspects of extrajudicial executions, as a first step to addressing concerns.

He also recommended the immediate repeal of the laws providing for immunity from prosecution of the police and the armed forces, as well as the ratification of a number of international treaties, including those related to torture and enforced disappearance.

The full report of his visit will be submitted to the Geneva-based Council in 2013

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Rt. Lt Gen Tejinder Singh named in Army Chief’s bribery complaint to CBI

Posted on 31 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Sunday, 1st  April 2012

PTI News  New Delhi: Army chief Gen V K Singh has named retired Lt Gen Tejinder Singh in his complaint to CBI on alleged Rs.14 crore bribe offered to him to clear tranche of nearly 600 Tatra trucks. CBI sources said Singh has assured them of providing more material about the bribe offer.

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One million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance – UN-backed survey

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Saturday, 31st  March 2012

UN News – Humanitarian Affairs – 29 March 2012 –

At least one million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the findings of a government-led assessment mission jointly carried out with the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and released today.Those in need include people directly affected by the ongoing violence, such as the injured and internally displaced persons, and those of have lost access to essential services and host families, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a summary of the assessment.

Technical staff from eight UN agencies participated in the assessment, which concluded on Monday, as well as three staff from the OIC. The team visited Aleppo, Ar Roqqa, Dara’a, Dayr Az Zor, Hama, Homs, Idlib, Lattakia, Rural Damascus and Tartous governorates. The analysis has already been shared with the Syrian Government.

Information was gathered from civilians, government officials, religious and community leaders, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), and local non-governmental organizations. While some areas could not be accessed due to ongoing insecurity or time constraints, the mission’s members were able to visit opposition-held neighbourhoods, according to OCHA.

Priority needs identified in the assessment include protection, food, medical assistance, non-food items, such as beddings and household essentials, and education.

Syria’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs has approved the delivery of assistance in coordination with the SARC. An initial convoy carrying food, blankets and hygiene kits for 2,000 displaced families left Damascus for the Tartous Governorate yesterday. Delivery is expected to begin tomorrow and further distributions are planned in other locations.

OCHA said that humanitarian efforts must remain completely separate from any political agenda and that UN agencies will continue to ensure the neutrality, independence and impartiality of their humanitarian work. The assessment report also encouraged donors to contribute to the newly established Emergency Response Fund for Syria.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, called for the protection of Syria’s cultural legacy, citing media reports that have indicated possible damage to precious sites during the ongoing conflict.

“I wish to express my grave concern about possible damage to precious sites and to call upon all those involved in the conflict to ensure the protection of the outstanding cultural legacy that Syria hosts on its soil,” said Ms. Bokova. “Damage to the heritage of the country is damage to the soul of its people and its identity.”

A succession of cultures in what is now Syria left an outstanding wealth of archaeological sites, historic cities, cultural landscapes, monuments and works of art that bear witness to the evolution of human ingenuity, according to UNESCO.

Six Syrian sites – Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra, Bosra, the Crac des Chevaliers and Saladin’s Castle, the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria – are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Many others are inscribed on the country’s Tentative List, such as Apamea – where a number of journalists have reported that the Citadel of Madiq has been bombarded. The so-called Tentative List is an inventory of those properties which a country intends to consider for nomination to the World Heritage List.

Earlier this year, UNESCO reminded the Syrian authorities, through the country’s representative to the agency, of their responsibility to ensure the protection of cultural heritage.

“This situation is becoming more crucial by the hour,” said Ms. Bokova. “I urge the Syrian authorities to respect the international Conventions they have signed, in particular the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Properties in the Event of Armed Conflict, the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, and the World Heritage Convention.”

The UNESCO chief has contacted the World Customs Organization, the international police organization INTERPOL, and the specialized heritage police of France and Italy to alert them to objects from Syria that could appear on the international antiquities market.

“UNESCO stands ready to assist in assessing reports of damage to the cultural heritage of Syria, including the World Heritage sites, and in preparing plans for their safeguarding, as soon as this becomes possible,” she added.

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BRICS’ efforts will strengthen international system:US

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Saturday, 31st  March 2012

PTI News Washington: The efforts of BRICS nations to engage in global multilateral institutions will help in strengthening “international system”, US State Dept’s Mark Toner said.

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Battle of attrition on between Army Chief, govt

Posted on 29 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Friday, 30th  March 2012

PTI News New Delhi: The war of attrition between the Army Chief and government showed no signs of abating today with Gen V K Singh describing as “high treason” the leak of his letter on defence preparedness and the government promising that those responsible would be given “maximum punishment”.

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UN rights chief praises Senegal election, urges Mali and Guinea-Bissau to follow suit

Posted on 29 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Friday, 30th  March 2012

UN News – Human Rights – 28 March 2012 –

The United Nations human rights chief today congratulated Senegal for conducting peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections, and called on other West African countries, where there has been increasing political tension and violence, to do the same.“At a time of uncertainty and election-related violence in other parts of West Africa, it is heartening that the Senegalese people, members of political parties, civil society and other stakeholders have pulled together to uphold the country’s tradition of peaceful, democratic transitions of power,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said.

Her comments follow similar remarks by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who earlier this week called on the outgoing President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, and Macky Sall, the reported winner of Sunday’s presidential run-off poll, to work together in the coming days in the interest of the country. Both Mr. Ban and Ms. Pillay had voiced concerns about the polls after a campaign marred by several deadly incidents. Protesters angry about Mr. Wade’s decision to seek a third term had taken to the streets of the capital, Dakar, and other cities in the run-up to the elections.

Ms. Pillay said that she regretted the violence in the run-up to the elections, but commended Mr. Wade’s swift acceptance of the latest election results.

“My office will continue to work with the new Government towards ensuring the enjoyment of all human rights for all people in Senegal,” she said.

The UN’s human rights chief also warned that other countries in West Africa, namely Mali and Guinea-Bissau, run the risk of having very different outcomes in the conduct of their elections.

In Mali, elements of the Malian armed forces seized control of the country last week, raising doubts about whether the elections planned for late April can take place, and whether the current conditions in the country can enable a genuine and fair vote.

“Unconstitutional changes of Government, accompanied by violence, can have a devastating impact on the human rights situation,” Ms. Pillay said. “Mali also had a good record of democratic elections over the past two decades, and I hope it gets back on that track as soon as possible.”

Guinea-Bissau held its first round of presidential elections on 18 March in which nine candidates competed, including former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior and ex-president Kumba Yala, two months after the death of President Malam Bacai Sanhá.

Ms. Pillay described the elections as “tense but in the end, thankfully, free of violence,” noting that international observers including from the Economic Community of West African States, the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries and the African Union found that the first round had been free, fair and transparent. However, five opposition candidates have threatened not to participate in the second round, after allegations of electoral fraud, increasing tension in the country.

“It is vital that the second round is also free and fair and violence-free,” Ms. Pillay said. “I call on all those taking part, especially the candidates and their supporters, to refrain from making provocative and inflammatory statements. I also call on all security forces to act in conformity with the law throughout this process.”

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UN expert calls on Papua New Guinea to do more to protect women against violence

Posted on 28 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Thursday, 29th  March 2012

UN News – Human Rights – 27 March 2012 –

A United Nations independent expert today called on Papua New Guinea to reinforce mechanisms that protect women against violence.“Accountability, rather than impunity, should become the norm for all acts of violence against women,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo. “The responsibility to prevent violence, protect against violence, provide remedies for victims, and to punish perpetrators for all acts of violence against women, is primarily an obligation of the State.”

Ms. Manjoo, who yesterday finished her fact-finding mission in the Pacific country, also urged authorities to address some traditional practices that are harmful to women, stating that even though tradition plays an important role in the daily lives of the population, violence should not be tolerated under any circumstances.

“Violence against women is a pervasive phenomenon in Papua New Guinea, with a wide range of manifestations occurring in the home, the community and institutional settings,” Ms. Manjoo said, noting in her preliminary findings that many women are subjected to physical and sexual violence by male family members.

“Domestic violence is socially perceived as a normal aspect of a woman’s life and a family matter that should not be discussed publicly,” she added.

Polygamy was also identified by Ms. Manjoo as a common cause of violence in the family, as abuse usually starts with neglect towards the first wife and her children, and can escalate into violence, and in some cases murder. In addition, Ms. Manjoo said that complaints of violence and sexual abuse of women by the police while in detention has become a systemic issue.

Ms. Manjoo welcomed a number of measures adopted by the Government such as family and sexual violence units set up by the police, the women and children’s desks set up through community policing, and the family and sexual offence unit of the office of the public prosecutor.

However, she also noted the lack of adequate human and financial resources for such initiatives, and expressed the hope that such units could be strengthened and replicated at the country’s provincial and district levels.

During her fact-finding mission last week, Ms. Manjoo met with government officials, national and provincial authorities, and members of the Autonomous Bougainville Government. She also held meetings with representatives of civil society organisations, UN agencies and donors.

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Army Chief to decide on complaint on his return from tour

Posted on 28 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Thursday, 29th  March 2012

PTI News  New Delhi: Army Chief Gen V K Singh still appears undecided as to whether to file a complaint with the CBI as it began preparing a case diary into his allegation that he was offered a bribe to clear a tranche of 600 ’substandard’ trucks for Army.

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Naxal strike in Maha: 11 CRPF personnel killed, 29 injured

Posted on 27 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Wednesday, 28th  March 2012

PTI News  Gadchiroli (Maha): Gadchiroli (Maha), Mar 27 (PTI) Eleven CRPF personnel were today killed and 29 others injured in a landmine blast triggered by Naxalites in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.

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Comprehensive approach needed to combat modern day slavery, says top UN official

Posted on 27 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Wednesday, 28th  March 2012

UN News – Human Rights – 26 March 2012 –

A comprehensive approach through laws, education and international cooperation is needed to end modern-day slavery, the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said today.“The terrible impacts of slavery and the slave trade are still felt to this day,” Mr. Al-Nasser said in remarks delivered on his behalf to a General Assembly meeting to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. “They have devastated continents and countries. They have led to profound social and economic inequalities, and have given rise to hatred, racism and prejudice.”

In 2007, the General Assembly designated 25 March as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade to honour the 28 million estimated Africans who were violently removed and cast into slavery, mainly in colonies in North America, South America and the West Indies.

In his remarks, Mr. Al-Nasser emphasized that Member States must work tirelessly to eradicate modern slave-like practices that have emerged in the forms of racism, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

The General Assembly President also underlined that existing international instruments on slavery “should be fully utilized to bring about necessary change in attitudes and customs, to punish the offenders, and to support innocent victims in re-gaining their lives and dignity.”

“Let us learn from the horrors and sacrifices of the past, and ensure through concrete actions and results that slavery in all its forms is forever eliminated,” the General Assembly was told.

Since Friday, the UN has been hosting a series of events to pay tribute to the men and women who bravely fought against the transatlantic trade as well as those who continue to stand up against modern forms of slavery.

This year’s commemoration at UN Headquarters includes an exhibition of images of heroes and activists, original documents, historical illustrated newspapers and artefacts, as well as an evening of cultural and culinary specialties of Africa and a global student videoconference.

In addition, plans are underway to erect a permanent memorial in the UN Headquarters complex to remind the world that millions of Africans were violently removed from their homelands, abused and robbed of their dignity over the course of four centuries during the transatlantic slave trade.

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