General

Pillay appeals for restraint, investigations in wake of escalating violence in Egypt

GENEVA, Switzerland, January 27, 2014 –UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Monday said she was gravely concerned about the escalating violence in Egypt in recent days that has led to scores of people being killed and injured. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay She called for a prompt investigation into the incidents that led to the regrettable loss of lives, and appealed on all sides to exercise restraint. “After the recent reprehensible terrorist attacks led to the loss of life and injuries, at least 62 people were killed in Cairo on Saturday,” the High Commissioner said. “I call on all sides to renounce the use of violence. Security forces have a duty to respect the right to peaceful protest, and it is important that Egyptian authorities comply with their international obligation to ensure that all Egyptians can exercise their rights to free assembly and freedom of expression without fear of violence or arrest. Demonstrators must also ensure that their protests remain peaceful.” The High Commissioner stressed that security forces in Egypt must at all times operate in line with international human rights laws and standards on the use of force, including the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which contain detailed guidelines governing the use of live ammunition.* Pillay also condemned the violent attacks against police and security forces. “The people of Egypt have the right to go about their lives without fear of violence,” she said. “I call on the Egyptian authorities to carry out prompt, independent and impartial investigations into the killings, to make the findings public and to bring to justice those responsible in accordance with international human rights standards.” The High Commissioner expressed concern about reports that numerous people have been arrested in connection with protests, stressing that those detained should either be promptly released or charged with a recognisable criminal offence and brought to justice in accordance with international standards. *Principle 9 of the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials states that: “Law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent his or her escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives. In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”

General

Mauritania: Follow-up mission by UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery

GENEVA, Switzerland, January 23, 2014 –United Nations Special Rapporteur on slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, will undertake a follow-up mission to Mauritania from 27 to 30 January 2014, to assess new developments since her first country visit in 2009 and the initiatives taken by the Government in response to her recommendations*. United Nations Special Rapporteur on slavery Gulnara Shahinian “This visit will allow me to discuss the adoption of the road map to ending slavery in Mauritania, which was prepared in cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Ms. Shahinian said. “Its adoption and implementation would be a milestone towards the eradication of slavery in the country,” stressed the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and consequences. The Special Rapporteur’s mandate on contemporary forms of slavery includes issues such as forced and bonded labour, worst forms of child labour, servile marriages and domestic servitude. During her four-day visit to Nouakchott, Ms. Shahinian will hold discussions with government representatives, as well as non-governmental organizations, trade unions, community members and others working in the area of combatting all forms of slavery. The Special Rapporteur is visiting Mauritania at the invitation of the Government. The visit’s findings and recommendations will be presented at a forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2014. A press conference will be held in Nouakchott at the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur’s visit – on Thursday, 30 January 2014 with additional information to follow. (*) Check the 2010 report on Mauritania by the Special Rapporteur Gulnara Shahinian:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Slavery/SRSlavery/Pages/CountryVisits.aspx

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Un Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos to visit South Sudan

UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos is scheduled to visit South Sudan from 27 to 29 January 2014 to draw attention to the humanitarian consequences of the current crisis and to mobilize further support for vital aid efforts.

Under-Secretary-General f…

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Ceasefire agreement signed in South Sudan

OSLO, Norway, January 23, 2014 –“Norway welcomes the ceasefire agreement in South Sudan. It is crucial that the parties now keep strictly to these agreements. Norway Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende All hostilities must cease at once and civilians must get access to humanitarian assistance,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende. The conflicting parties – the Government of South Sudan, and a delegation representing former Vice President Riek Machar – have today taken an important step towards reaching a peaceful solution to the conflict. The ceasefire agreement was brokered by mediators from the regional organisation Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), with Ethiopia playing a facilitator role and hosting the talks in Addis Ababa. “The ceasefire agreement is essential for ensuring that humanitarian assistance can reach the many people affected by the conflict, who are in dire need of protection, food, drinking water, medical assistance and shelter. The UN and its peace mission UNMISS are playing a key role in the efforts to stabilise the situation in South Sudan. I would like to express Norwayʼs full support of UNMISS in this context,” said Mr Brende. The current crisis in South Sudan began in mid-December last year, as a result of growing internal divisions in the ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). The hostilities have resulted in widespread devastation and massive humanitarian needs. According to UN estimates, several thousand people have been killed and almost half a million have been forced to flee from their homes. “The parties must quickly negotiate the next step, which is to establish a broad and inclusive political process, with civil society organisations – including women’s rights organisations – playing a central role. A process of this kind can pave the way for more robust democratic development, allowing the underlying causes of this serious crisis to be addressed. Norway stands ready to support these efforts,” said Mr Brende.

General

Burma mobs ‘kill 30 Rohingyas’

More than 30 Rohingya Muslims were killed in attacks by Buddhists last week in Burma’s Rakhine state, the BBC has been told. The attacks were said to have taken place near the town of Maungdaw Two international aid officials who were granted access to the area in the far west of the country said they had found evidence of a mass killing. Human rights group Fortify Rights claims a series of attacks took place over five days last week. The government and local officials have strongly denied claims of a massacre. Revenge attacks The latest development follows reports of clashes between Rohingyas and the police in the Maungdaw township over the past month. It is thought tensions initially arose amid reports that several Rohingyas had been killed trying to flee over the border into Bangladesh. Things escalated after a local policeman was reported missing, presumed killed. Local Rakhine Buddhists aided by the security forces are then reported to have taken part in bloody revenge attacks in and around the village of Du Char Yar Tan. The death toll of 30 is thought to be a conservative estimate, says the BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Burma, which is also known as Myanmar. Some reports say as many as 70 people – including women and children – were killed. The UN’s humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has called on the government to allow aid workers into the area and to “immediately launch an impartial investigation” into the events. The Rohingya people are considered stateless and are rejected by both Burma and neighbouring Bangladesh, our correspondent says. At least 200 people were killed in fierce clashes between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Rakhine state in 2012. Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims remain displaced in the wake of that violence, many still living in camps. Sporadic outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence continued throughout 2013 in other parts of Burma as well. BBC

General

Good governance remains bedrock of transformation

We in Tanzania and other people elsewhere in the world are now living witnesses to the collapse of authoritarian and unpopular regimes. If there is a political revolution going on throughout the world, it’s what might be called the …

General

Pope Benedict XVI defrocked 400 priests over child abuse

Close to 400 priests were defrocked in only two years by the former Pope Benedict XVI over claims of child abuse, the Vatican has confirmed. The Vatican initially rejected the report, but later confirmed the figures The statistics for 2011 and 2012 show a dramatic increase compared with previous years, according to a document obtained by the Associated Press (AP). The file was part of Vatican data collected for a UN hearing on Thursday. It was the first time the Holy See was publicly confronted over the sexual abuse of children by clergy. Church officials at the hearing in Geneva faced a barrage of hard questions covering why they were withholding data and what they were doing to prevent future abuse. Victims’ advocates complained there was still too little transparency. ‘Shame of the Church’ Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi initially said the AP report had been based on a mistaken reading of data. But he later retracted his statement, confirming to the BBC that the story was correct. The latest statistics reveal the number of priests defrocked in 2011 and 2012 was more than double the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided figures. The Vatican also sent another 400 cases to either be tried by a Church tribunal or to be dealt with administratively, AP reports. Benedict, who was elected in 2005, took the helm as the scandal of child sex abuse by priests was breaking. The flood of allegations, lawsuits and official reports into clerical abuse reached a peak in 2009 and 2010, which observers say may explain the spike shown in the document. The Holy See is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally binding instrument which commits it to protecting and nurturing the most vulnerable in society. It ratified the convention in 1990 but after an implementation report in 1994 it did not submit any progress reports until 2012, following revelations of child sex abuse in Europe and beyond. Last month, the Vatican refused a request from the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child for data on abuse, on the grounds that it only released such information if requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings. In a homily on Thursday, Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis, called abuse scandals “the shame of the Church”. He announced in December that a Vatican committee would be set up to fight sexual abuse of children in the Church. Agencies

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Secretary-General, fearing same-sex marriage ban may fuel prejudice, violence in Nigeria, ‘Strongly Hopes’ for review of new law’s…

NEW YORK, January 16, 2014 – The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon The Secretary-General shares the deep concern expressed yesterday by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, following the recent signing into law of the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in Nigeria. The law introduces a wide range of offences, in breach of fundamental human rights, including 14-year jail terms for same-sex couples who live together or attempt to solemnize their union with a ceremony. The Secretary-General fears that the law may fuel prejudice and violence, and notes with alarm reports that police in northern Nigeria have arrested individuals believed by the authorities to be homosexuals, and may even have tortured them. As the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Global Fund noted in a statement yesterday, the law also risks obstructing effective responses to HIV/AIDS. The Secretary-General reiterates that everyone is entitled to enjoy the same basic rights and live a life of worth and dignity without discrimination. This fundamental principle is embedded in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Secretary-General strongly hopes that the constitutionality of the law can be reviewed. The United Nations stands ready to assist Nigeria in any way to bring about constructive dialogue and change on this matter.