Archive | June, 2012

Surjeet Singh at his village Fidda

Posted on 29 June 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Saturday, 30th June 2012

PTI News Ferozepur: Villagers greet Indian prisoner Surjeet Singh as he arrives at his village  after being released by the Pakistani authorities. Singh was lodged in Kot Lakhpatrai Jail of Pakistan for the last 31 years on spying charges.

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UN human rights experts condemn recent execution in Iran

Posted on 29 June 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Saturday, 30th June 2012

UN News – Human Rights – 28 June 2012 –

Three independent United Nations human rights experts have condemned the recent execution of four members of the Ahwazi Arab minority in Iran after a reportedly unfair trial, and called on the Government to halt the use of the death penalty.Abdul Rahman Heidarian, Abbas Heidarian, Taha Heidarian – who are brothers – and Ali Sharif were reportedly arrested in April 2011 during a protest in the province of Khuzestan and convicted of Moharebeh (enmity against God) and Fasad-fil Arz (corruption on earth), according to a news release issued by the experts.

They were sentenced to death and executed on or around 19 June in Karoun Prison, in the province’s capital, Ahwaz.

“Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns remain about due process and fairness of trials in cases involving the death penalty in Iran,” said the three UN Special Rapporteurs – Ahmed Shaheed, Christof Heyns and Juan E. Méndez – who deal with Iran, summary executions and torture, respectively.

“Under international law, the death penalty is the most extreme form of punishment, which, if it is used at all, should be imposed only for the most serious crimes,” they said. “Defendants in death penalty cases should also receive fair trial guarantees stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Iran in 1975.”

“Any death sentence undertaken in contravention of those international obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution,” stressed the three experts.

The rights experts noted with concern the high numbers of executions carried out in public – at least 25 this year alone – despite a circular issued in January 2008 by the Iranian Chief Justice banning the practice.

“Executions in public add to the already cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the death penalty and can only have a dehumanizing effect on the victim and a brutalizing effect on those who witness the execution,” the experts underscored.

They voiced regret that the authorities continue to apply the death penalty with alarming frequency, despite numerous calls to the Government to establish a moratorium on executions.

At least 140 executions are known to have been carried out since the beginning of 2012, with some sources indicating the figure to be as high as 220. The majority of these are for drug-related offences, which the experts do not believe constitute the “most serious crimes” as required by international law.

The experts urged the Iranian authorities “to halt immediately the imposition of the death penalty for crimes which do not constitute the most serious crimes, as well as ensure stringent respect for fair trial guarantees.”

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Mr. Shaheed; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Heyns; and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Méndez all serve in an independent and unpaid capacity.

They report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which appoints experts to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme.

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Surjeet Singh crosses over to India after 31 years in Pak jail

Posted on 28 June 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Friday 29th June 2012

Attari (Amritsar), June 28 (PTI) Freed after spending 31 years in a Pakistani jail on charges of being a spy, Surjeet Singh today crossed over the Wagah border to an emotional welcome by family and friends.

69-year-old Singh looked cheerful as he got down from a prison van in Lahore escorted by a Pakistani security personnel who latched on to an iron chain hooked to his belt.

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Pranab, Sagma file nominations for Prez poll

Posted on 28 June 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Friday 29th June 2012

New Delhi, June 28 (PTI) Stage was set for a contest between Pranab Mukherjee and P A Sangma with the two candidates today filing their nomination papers for the July 19 Presidential poll in which the UPA candidate seems headed for a runaway victory.

Both the UPA and opposition parties projected their strengths during the filing of the nomination papers in Parliament House with top leaders from the respective camps accompanying their candidates.

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PM to chair meet on govt sensitive cyber domains

Posted on 27 June 2012 by admin

AIHRA NewsThursday 28th June 2012

New Delhi, Jun 27 (PTI) With Government online networks facing threats from hackers, security of sensitive cyber domains will be reviewed at a high-level meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tomorrow which will discuss ways to counter such offensives.

The National Security Council (NSC) meeting is expected to decide on the steps to be taken to protect the country’s cyber architecture and designate organisations to counter such offensives, sources said here.

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Pak U-turn on Sarabjit; India renews appeal for his release

Posted on 27 June 2012 by admin

AIHRA NewsThursday 28th June 2012

New Delhi, June 27 (PTI) After Pakistan’s flip flop over release of death row convict Sarabjit Singh, India today renewed its appeal for his freedom amid questions as to what forced the U-turn.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, who had yesterday thanked President Asif Ali Zardari following reports that Sarabjit, 49, was to be released which turned out to be untrue, today said the government was waiting for an official communication from Pakistan about who was being released.

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Sentimental Pranab says goodbye to North Block

Posted on 26 June 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Wednesday 27th June 2012

New Delhi, June 26 (PTI) A sentimental Pranab Mukherjee today said he is leaving his job as Finance Minister to “embark on a new journey”.

Before leaving to tender his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mukherjee said, ” I stand ready to embark on a new journey”.

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Virbhadra Singh resigns; 3rd minister in UPA-II to quit

Posted on 26 June 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Wednesday 27th June 2012

New Delhi, Jun 26 (PTI) Union Minister Virbhadra Singh resigned today in the wake of a Himachal Pradesh court framing corruption charges against him, the third minister in UPA-II to step down on similar grounds.

A five-time Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, 78-year- old Singh, the Union Minister for Small, Micro and Medium Industries, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his Race Course Residence before announcing his resignation.

“I have given my papers to the Prime Minister,” he said

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UN agency seeks funds for ‘critical’ refugee situation in South Sudan

Posted on 25 June 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday 26th June 2012

UN News – Humanitarian Affairs – 22 June 2012 –

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is urgently appealing for more funding to scale up its assistance to refugees in South Sudan, which it described as among the “most critical” situations it now faces.There are currently some 162,500 people who have fled conflict and related food shortages in Sudan and have taken refuge in neighbouring South Sudan. Another 36,500 have fled to Ethiopia.

A sharp surge in refugee numbers in recent weeks in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state has seen an average of 1,000 new arrivals every day, according to the agency.

Funding needs for the relief operation in South Sudan now exceed $219 million, for which UNHCR has so far received just $45.9 million, or less than 21 per cent of what is required.

“The situation for refugees in South Sudan is among the most critical UNHCR now faces anywhere,” spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a news conference in Geneva today, adding that the contributions the agency has received so far for South Sudan “have been exhausted.”

Mr. Edwards said many of the new arrivals were in a desperate state with large numbers of children in urgent need of assistance to combat malnourishment. “We are very concerned about the growing mortality rates in the refugee camps,” he said.

“Water shortages present a life-threatening risk, particularly for an already weakened population,” he added. The agency is establishing a baseline survey to gain a better picture of the situation.

UNHCR is currently planning for a refugee population in South Sudan of up to 235,000 people. It is not expecting a further dramatic increase in arrivals in Ethiopia and funding needs there remain unchanged.

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UN human rights treaty body system in urgent need of help, says new report

Posted on 25 June 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday 26th June 2012

UN News – Human Rights – 22 June 2012 –

The United Nations human rights treaty body system is in crisis and in need of urgent help, according to a new UN report, which offers a set of proposals to strengthen and improve the system and enhance its accessibility to those who need it the most.Released today, Strengthening the United Nations human rights treaty body was produced by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

In a news release, the High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, stated that the establishment of the treaty bodies and the evolution of the treaty body system is one of the greatest achievements in the efforts of the international community to promote and protect human rights – but requires better resourcing, as well as a more streamlined and efficient approach.

The 10 human rights treaty bodies which make up the system are committees of independent experts that periodically examine the implementation of all treaties that State parties have ratified under international law.

The High Commissioner’s report focuses on strengthening the system – which has doubled in size since 2000 – rather than reforming it, and Ms. Pillay provides recommendations to enhance its visibility and its accessibility to individuals and communities who need it the most.

“The ultimate objective of this process was to take stock of the challenges and improve the impact of treaty bodies on States parties and individuals or groups of individuals at the national level by strengthening their work while fully respecting their independence,” she said.

The report, which has been almost three years in the making, noted that the increase in the number of international human rights treaties, and of the number of States that have ratified each treaty, has not been matched by an increase in resources to allow the committees monitoring implementation of the treaties to keep pace.

“In doubling the size of the human rights treaty body system under these new instruments, there has been chronically insufficient attention given to properly resource this fundamental human rights mechanism,” said Ms. Pillay.

To create a more efficient and streamlined approach to the treaty body system, the High Commissioner proposed the use of a reporting calendar, so that every report is reviewed on time, with the hope that this will result in equal treatment of all States.

She also recommends the utilization of new technologies, including webcasting and videoconferencing to increase visibility and accessibility to these treaty bodies.

In the introduction to the report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the treaty body system “provides authoritative guidance on human rights standards, advises on how treaties apply in specific cases, and informs States parties on what they must do to ensure that all people enjoy their human rights.”

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