Archive | April, 2012

UN humanitarian official calls on donors to support ongoing Pakistan relief effort

Posted on 26 April 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Friday 27th April 2012

UN News – Humanitarian Affairs – 25 April 2012 –

A senior United Nations humanitarian official has commended the ongoing efforts to assist some 7.2 million people affected by flooding and insecurity in Pakistan, while urging donors to step up support to sustain the response.The Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, saw first-hand the response by aid agencies and the Government of Pakistan during a three-day visit to the country.

The Pakistani Government and the humanitarian community have been working together in the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan to help 5.2 million people recover from last year’s devastating floods.

In February, the UN and the Government jointly launched the Early Recovery Framework, which includes building resilience against future crises by developing early warning systems and constructing homes that will withstand natural disasters.

In addition to the floods, insecurity in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people since mid-January. The fighting has driven a large number of families to flee to the safety of the Jalozai camp, where UN agencies are providing them with humanitarian supplies.

“I am truly impressed at the speed and standard of the response,” Mr. Ging said during a visit to the camp, adding that “now, our preoccupation is with funding, as many agencies will run out of money by the end of May.”

While the Government, donors, UN agencies and their implementing partners have given hundreds of millions of dollars to save lives and support recovery in Pakistan, the UN estimates that a further $840 million is needed to help families to recover from the effects of flooding and insecurity.

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Odisha MLA freed after 33 days in Maoist captivity

Posted on 26 April 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Friday 27th April 2012

PTI News  Bhubaneswar: Odisha MLA Jhina Hikaka was today released unharmed by Maoists at a village in Koraput, 33 days after he was abducted from the same district by the rebels.

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Restrictions on NGOs worldwide undermining human rights, says UN senior official

Posted on 26 April 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Thursday 26th April 2012

UN News – Human Rights – 25 April 2012 –

Recent moves in a number of countries to limit the freedom of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are seriously undermining human rights, a United Nations senior official said today, urging governments to revise proposed laws that would restrict their capacity to operate independently and effectively.“Civil society – including NGOs, trade unions, human rights defenders, academics, journalists, bloggers and others – plays an absolutely crucial role in ensuring that human rights are protected in individual states,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

“A dynamic and autonomous civil society, able to operate freely, is one of the fundamental checks and balances necessary for building a healthy society, and one of the key bridges between governments and their people. It is therefore crucial that NGOs are able to function properly in countries in transition, as well as in established democracies,” she added.

Ms. Pillay spotlighted cases in several countries around the world such as Egypt, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Israel and Venezuela, among others, where recent regulations or attempts to pass regulations are curtailing NGOs’ abilities to operate in those countries.

In the case of Egypt, a draft law would give the Government too much power to regulate, monitor and restrict the world of civil society organizations. “If passed in its current forms, [it will] seriously undermine the spirit of Egypt’s revolution, in which civil society played such a pivotal role,” Ms. Pillay said.

Ms. Pillay noted that it is particularly important to protect freedom of association, which is under increasing pressure in many countries. She cited the case of Zimbabwe, where provincial authorities ordered the suspension of the activities of 29 NGOs in February.

The human rights chief also pointed to a proposed law in Cambodia, which would allow the Government to close down NGOs if their activities are deemed to harm national unity, culture and customs without giving them the right to appeal. A similar law was passed in Algeria.

“Civil society actors help mobilize people to become involved in decisions that affect their lives,” Ms. Pillay said. “If their contribution is weak or restrained, the needs of ordinary people are too easily sidelined, and in particular the needs of the people most discriminated against in any given society.”

Ms. Pillay also expressed concern about ongoing attempts to restrict NGOs’ funding, in particular foreign funding, on which many civil society organizations rely heavily. In Ethiopia, many NGOs have been forced to close due to a 2009 law which prevents them from receiving more than ten per cent of their funding from abroad; and, in Israel, a recently adopted law subjects them to rigorous reporting requirements on foreign funding, with heavy penalties for non-compliance.

In addition, in a law passed in Venezuela in January by the country’s congress places NGOs under permanent surveillance by a state organ and imposes restrictions on foreign funding.

“NGOs must be able to operate free from executive interference,” Ms. Pillay said. “Governments need to understand that collaboration with civil society is not a sign of weakness. It is the way to build a better, more inclusive, society – something all governments should be trying to do, and something they cannot manage on their own.”

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India launches all-weather earth observation satellite RISAT-1

Posted on 26 April 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Thursday 26th April 2012

PTI News Sriharikota (AP): India today successfully launched its 1st indigenous all-weather radar imaging satellite RISAT-1 that will boost remote sensing capabilities & facilitate agriculture & disaster management.

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No change in visa policy towards Indian students: US

Posted on 25 April 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Wednesday 25th April 2012

PTI News  Washington: US has said that there is no change in its policy while issuing visas to Indian students. State Dept spokersperson said that their interviewing policy has not changed.

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LS suspends 8 Telangana Cong MPs for four days

Posted on 25 April 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Wednesday 25th April 2012

PTI News  New Delhi: The Lok Sabha today suspended 8 Congress members from Telangana for four days for causing repeated disruptions in the house. Earlier, leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee had held parleys with Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj apparently in this regard soon after the House adjourned for the second time today.

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2G: SC refuses to grant 400 days to Centre for licence auction

Posted on 25 April 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday 24th April 2012

PTI News  New Delhi: Supreme Court today refused to grant 400 days to the govt to complete the process of fresh auctioning of the 2G spectrum licences but extended the deadline.

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Ban urges Bahrain authorities to resolve case of jailed human rights defender

Posted on 25 April 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday 24th April 2012

UN News -Human Rights – 24 April 2012 –

While expressing concern about the situation in Bahrain,Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the Gulf state’s authorities to resolve the case of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a human rights defender serving a life sentence handed down by a military court on alleged terrorism-related charges, who has been on a hunger strike for eleven weeks.“The Secretary-General once again urges the Bahraini authorities to resolve Mr. Al-Khawaja’s case based on due process and humanitarian considerations without any further delay,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.

Earlier this month, a group of UN experts had called for the immediate release of Mr. Al-Khawaja, who was due to receive a final verdict from Bahrain’s Court of Cassation today. However, according to media reports, the verdict has been postponed until 30 April.

Mr. Ban also called on Bahraini authorities to fully respect the fundamental human rights of the Bahraini people, including due process concerning all detainees.

In addition, Mr. Ban “remains concerned about the situation in Bahrain, particularly with regard to the continuing clashes between security forces and protesters which have resulted in more casualties,” the statement said. “He reiterates his appeal to all sides for utmost restraint and an immediate end to the violence.”

Since February, there have been clashes in Bahrain between security forces and demonstrators, a year after widespread civil protests first emerged in the country. The Secretary-General has consistently called for authorities there to exercise restraint and act in accordance with their international human rights obligations.

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UN envoy calls for collaborative approach to accelerate fight against malaria

Posted on 25 April 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Monday 23rdApril 2012

UN News – Humanitarian Affairs – 23 April 2012 –

An increase in collaboration and partnerships among donor and recipient countries must occur to boost efforts to prevent and treat malaria, a United Nations envoy stressed today, while also calling for an increase in funding to combat the deadly disease.Addressing the media at press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, Ray Chambers, said that although malaria deaths have declined significantly in recent years, there is still much to be done to reach the target of zero deaths by 2015, and countries would need to increase their coordination in addressing the issue.

“We now have the challenge of having to raise around $3.2 billion to get us to the point of having a change to be at near-zero deaths by 2015,” Mr. Chambers said, adding that the funding is needed to renew bed nets which generally wear out after three years, as well as to make medication and rapid diagnosis available to the population.

Malaria, which is caused by a parasite transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes, kills more than 650,000 people around the world every year, with most of the deaths occurring in Africa.

The press conference came ahead of World Malaria Day, which is observed every year on 25 April. The theme for this year’s observance is “Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria,” and it aims to emphasize the need to maintain the momentum that has caused the disease to shrink over the last decade and increase investment to help reach universal targets.

According to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) in December last year, the number of deaths due to malaria declined by more than 25 per cent in the past decade, with a 33 per cent reduction in mortality rates in Africa.

Mr. Chambers said he was optimistic about eliminating the disease as there had been a lot of progress to date, as well as innovation in developing rapid diagnostic tools and more effective medications. He also noted there would be a new vaccine by 2015 that could be 50 per cent more effective than current ones. However, he underscored the crucial role of funding to continue the work on the ground.

As part of the events planned around World Malaria Day, the UN will host a reception on Monday evening, bringing together partners from the health, development, entertainment and private sectors.

The so-called NETworking reception, which was organized by the Roll Back Malaria partnership, Mr. Chambers, the UN Foundation and Variety Magazine, will seek to strengthen partnerships and initiatives to fight malaria, and recognize those who have helped raise awareness about the disease.

Among the guests will be former basketball player Shaquille O’Neal from the United States, and Princess Astrid of Belgium, who is also a Special Representative to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, and will be presented an award by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for her work in the fight against malaria.

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UN rights office calls for halt on use of military courts to try civilians in Gaza

Posted on 24 April 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Monday 23rdApril 2012

UN News – Human Rights – 20 April 2012 –

The UN human rights office today expressed serious concern that the de facto authorities in Gaza continue to issue death sentences and carry out executions, especially since many of the sentences are handed down by military courts against civilians.“We reject the use of military tribunals to try civilians in Gaza, a practice which seriously undermines fair trial guarantees,” said the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, at a press conference in Geneva.

“Death sentences should never be issued under these circumstances, where the defendant does not receive all the procedural guarantees of a fair trial. Individuals sentenced to death must be guaranteed the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law,” he added.

According to OHCHR, since the beginning of this year, the de facto authorities have delivered or upheld six death sentences, one of which was delivered in absentia. Three men were hanged earlier this month and at least one other faces imminent execution by firing squad.

Information gathered by OHCHR indicates that defendants in Gaza are routinely not granted regular access to their lawyers, and the military courts often rely on confessions made under duress and/or torture.

“We urge the de facto authorities in Gaza to cease using military tribunals to try civilians,” Mr. Colville said. “We also note that due to the current intra-Palestinian political division it is not possible for defendants’ rights to a fair trial to be fulfilled.”

In particular, Mr. Colville added, the Palestinian Basic Law requires that the President of the Palestinian Authority ratify all death sentences – however, none of the executions in Gaza has fulfilled this legal requirement.

“With regard to the death penalty, the de facto authorities’ judicial system applies a completely different set of laws to those under the recognized judicial system in the West Bank,” he noted.

Under international law, the death penalty is regarded as an extreme form of punishment which should only be imposed for the most serious crimes, after a trial that meets international standards.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has previously urged the de facto authorities in Gaza to impose a moratorium on executions.

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