#UN; #India; #ExpeditationOfCitizenshipForCertainReligiousMinorities; #HumanRights; #UNHumanRights; #OHCHR
India, Dec 14 (Canadian-Media):A new law in India which expedites citizenship for certain religious minorities has been criticized by the UN human rights office for being “fundamentally discriminatory in nature”, UN reports said.
Photo of New Delhi, India. Image credit: UN India
The amendment to the Citizenship Act gives priority to Hindus, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians resident in India before 2014, but excludes Muslims, including minority sects.
“Although India’s broader naturalization laws remain in place, these amendments will have a discriminatory effect on people’s access to nationality”, Jeremy Laurence, a spokesperson with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said on Friday.
India’s Parliament passed the controversial law on Wednesday, which has sparked protests and clashes in several locations.
Speaking to journalists in Geneva, Mr. Laurence said it appears to undermine India’s commitment to equality before the law, as enshrined in its Constitution.
He added that last December, India joined the international community in endorsing the Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration, which commits countries to ensure that all measures governing migration are based in human rights.
“All migrants, regardless of their migration status, are entitled to respect, protection and fulfilment of their human rights,” he said.
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Furthermore, while protecting persecuted groups is welcome, the UN human rights office said this should happen through a “robust” asylum system based on equality and non-discrimination, and which applies to all people regardless of race, religion, national origin or other status.
“We understand the new law will be reviewed by the Supreme Court of India and hope it will consider carefully the compatibility of the law with India’s international human rights obligations”, said Mr. Laurence.
Meanwhile, international media outlets are reporting that two people were killed and many others injured, in demonstrations held in northern India on Thursday to protest the new measure.
OHCHR has urged the authorities to respect the right to peaceful assembly, while all sides should refrain from resorting to violence.
#UN; #Protests; #HumanRights; #UNHumanRights; InternationalHumanRightsViolation
Chile, Dec 13 (Canadian-Media): During the recent mass protests which led Chile to declare a state of emergency, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a report published on Friday that international human rights norms had been violated by both police and army personnel, which should be prosecuted, UN reports said.
In a new report, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that demonstrations in Chile were deeply rooted in grievances related to inequality and non-discriminatory access to human rights.
Image credit: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
The 30-page report based on research during the first three weeks of November, extensively details multiple allegations, including torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence by the police against people held in detention.
The leader of the UN mission, Imma Guerras-Delgado, told journalists in Geneva, that the overall management of demonstrations by the police “was carried out in a fundamentally repressive manner.”
When a student protest in October over subway prices turned into a nationwide movement against the Government, peaceful demonstrations swept across the country.
Although the great majority of detainees have now been released, official figures revealed that more than 28,000 people were jailed between 18 October and 6 December – many arbitrarily.
The research team conducted 235 interviews with victims and 60 others with police officers, including some of those injured during the protests.
“The police have regularly failed to distinguish between people demonstrating peacefully and violent protesters”, the report said.
Moreover, it documented 113 specific cases of torture and ill-treatment, and 24 cases of sexual violence against women, men and adolescent girls and boys, perpetrated by members of the police and army, while noting that the National Human Rights Institution had filed criminal complaints relating to hundreds of other such cases.
Citing the Ministry of Justice figures, the OHCHR report revealed that up to 10 December, nearly 5,000 people were injured, including nearly 2,800 police officers, but noted other sources had indicated higher number had suffered injuries.
Citing some 350 people with injuries to their eyes or faces, the report said that “alarmingly high number…provides a strong basis to believe that ‘less-lethal weapons’ have been used improperly and indiscriminately, against international principles on minimizing the risk of injury.”
It noted that while eye injuries mainly resulted from shotgun pellets, some cases were “due to the use of chemical irritants, in particular tear gas and, in some instances, from impacts from tear gas canisters.”
Pointing out that the authorities “had information regarding the extent of the injuries as early as 22 October”, the report maintained that those responsible failed to adopt timely measures to stop the use of less-lethal weapons.
“Prompt action by the relevant authorities could have prevented other people suffering serious injuries”, it spelled out.
“Immediately end the indiscriminate use of anti-riot shotguns to control demonstrations”, was one of the recommendations the report made to the Chilean State.
It also said that tear gas should only be used “when strictly necessary and never inside education and health establishments”, adding that police officers should receive clear instructions on proper use, and ensure that canisters “are always fired at a high angle and never horizontally, according to international standards.”
Prompt action by the relevant authorities could have prevented other people suffering serious injuries -- OHCHR report
In its conclusions, the report observed that “multiple root causes, including social and economic inequality” had prompted the demonstrations and that the majority of protesters “have done so in a peaceful manner”.
The OHCHR report also upheld specific measures to rectify police practices and called on the Government to “ensure that security forces adopt measures to guarantee accountability for human rights violations, and duly recognize such violations.”
“Recognizing and learning from what happened, we should look forward in a constructive way,” said Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said.
The report also prescribed a follow-up mechanism, within three months, to evaluate the implementation of recommendations.
“This follow-up mechanism should aim to establish measures to prevent the recurrence of the sad and troubling events that have engulfed Chile over the past two months – especially as protests are continuing in different parts of the country, albeit with less intensity, and we continue to receive allegations of human rights violations”, concluded Ms. Bachelet, underscoring that the mechanism’s work “should be made public.”
United Nations, Dec 11 (Canadian-Media): Myanmar will have “no tolerance” for human rights abuses committed in Rakhine state and will prosecute the military, if war crimes have been committed there, Aung San Suu Kyi told the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s main judicial body, on Wednesday.
Aung San Suu Kyi appears at the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 11 December 2019. Image credit: ICJ/Frank van Beek
Ms. Suu Kyi was testifying in defence of her country, which is facing charges of genocide committed against the mainly-Muslim Rohingya minority group, brought by The Gambia, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
If war crimes have been committed, they will be prosecuted within our military justice system - Myanmar State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi
The de-facto leader of Myanmar, who was placed under house arrest by the country’s then military rulers off and on over more than 20 years, is not on trial at the ICJ, which settles disputes between countries. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has the responsibility of trying individuals, and in November, the ICC authorized its own investigation into alleged crimes against humanity, namely deportation, committed against the Rohingya.
“If war crimes have been committed, they will be prosecuted within our military justice system”, the Nobel peace laureate Ms. Suu Kyi said in court, during the second day of preliminary proceedings at the ICJ.
In her opening statement in front of judges in The Hague, Ms. Suu Kyi outlined decades of tensions between Rakhine’s mainly Rohingya Muslim community and their Buddhist neighbours.
These boiled over on 25 August 2017, when the country’s military – often referred to as the Tatmadaw - carried out a sweeping crackdown against Rohingya communities, in response to deadly attacks on police and security posts by separatists known as the Arakan Army.
The result was the exodus of more than 700,000 people to neighbouring Bangladesh, many of whom told UN-appointed independent investigators that they had witnessed targeted violence of extreme brutality.
Numerous alleged human rights abuses took place, with the then UN human rights chief describing it as bearing all the hallmarks of a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Genocidal intent ‘cannot be only possibility’: Suu Kyi
It could not be ruled out that the Tatmadaw had used disproportionate force, Ms. Suu Kyi told the Netherlands-based court, while also suggesting that “surely, under the circumstances, genocidal intent cannot be the only hypothesis” – the same phraseology used around a 2019 UN report by independent experts on the circumstances leading up to the Rakhine mass exodus.
According to the report by the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, the country’s military were responsible for the “widespread and systematic killing of women and girls, the systematic selection of women and girls of reproductive ages for rape, attacks on pregnant women and on babies, the mutilation and other injuries to their reproductive organs, the physical branding of their bodies by bite marks on their cheeks, neck, breast and thigh, and so severely injuring victims that they may be unable to have sexual intercourse with their husbands or to conceive and leaving them concerned that they would no longer be able to have children.”
Highlighting that Myanmar’s own military justice system “must” be responsible for investigating and prosecuting allegations of possible war crimes by soldiers or officers in Rakhine, Ms. Suu Kyi regretted that the case brought against her country by The Gambia was “an incomplete and misleading factual picture in Rakhine state and Myanmar”.
Tatmadaw military ‘will be put on trial in Myanmar if guilty’
If war crimes have been committed by members of Myanmar’s defence services, Ms Suu Kyi added, “they will be prosecuted through our military justice system, in accordance with Myanmar’s constitution”.
In addition, she said that “it would not be helpful” for the international legal order if the impression takes hold that only resource-rich countries can conduct adequate domestic investigations and prosecutions”.
The Myanmar representative also insisted that it was of the utmost importance that the ICJ also assess the situation “on the ground in Rakhine dispassionately and accurately”.
Case against Myanmar laid out in detail
The hearing, brought by The Gambia with the backing of the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, alleges that “…against the backdrop of longstanding persecution and discrimination, from around October 2016 the Myanmar military (the “Tatmadaw”) and other Myanmar security forces began widespread and systematic ‘clearance operations’ – the term that Myanmar itself uses – against the Rohingya group”.
The “genocidal acts” that followed “were intended to destroy the Rohingya as a group - in whole or in part”, The Gambia’s submission states, detailing mass murder, rape and other sexual violence against the Rohingya and the “systematic destruction by fire” of villages, “often with inhabitants locked inside burning houses”.
From August 2017 onwards, such genocidal acts continued with Myanmar’s resumption of “clearance operations” on a more massive and wider geographical scale”, it continued.
#UN; #InternationalDayoftheEliminationofViolenceagainstWomen; #genderInequality;
New York, Nov 24 (Canadian-Media): Violence against women and girls is among the most widespread, and devastating human rights violations in the world, but much it is often unreported due to impunity, shame and gender inequality, the UN highlighted ahead of Monday’s World Day to stamp out abuse of women and girls.
“Sexual violence against women and girls is rooted in centuries of male domination”, UN chief Secretary-General António Guterres added, reminding the world that stigma, misconceptions, under-reporting and poor enforcement of laws perpetuate impunity in rape cases.
“All of this must change…now”, Guterres urged.
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”, the UN highlighted on the Day.
Rape isn’t an isolated brief act. It damages flesh and reverberates in memory.--Executive Director of UN Women
Beginning Monday, and for the upcoming two years, the UN chief’s UNiTe to End Violence against Women campaign will focus on the issue of rape as a specific form of harm, encouraging people to join the initiative and “Orange the World.”
UN Women’s Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, expressed her concerns when it comes to rape specifically.
She said the end of the horrendous act would mean eliminating a “significant weapon of war from the arsenal of conflict”, the absence of a daily risk assessment for girls and women who actively work to avoid an incident that could leave them scarred.
“Rape isn’t an isolated brief act. It damages flesh and reverberates in memory. It can have life changing, unchosen results – a pregnancy or a transmitted disease”, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed, adding that consequences of a one-time act can sprawl into damaging long-term effects.
“It’s long-lasting, devastating effects reach others: family, friends, partners and colleagues”, she continued.
In addition, research by the World Health Organization (WHO), details disturbing impacts of violence on women’s physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health:
Women who experience physical or sexual abuse are twice as likely to have an abortion, and the experience nearly doubles their likelihood of falling into depression. In some regions, they are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, and evidence exists that sexually assaulted women are 2.3 times more likely to have alcohol disorders.
More women abused than not, in US
Some national studies examining incidents in the United States show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and or sexual violence from an intimate partner, according to UN Women.
The agency cited that nearly a quarter of female college students reported having experienced sexual assault or misconduct in the US, but harm targeting women and girls knows no bounds.
Multi-country investigations by WHO show partner violence to be a reality for 65 per cent of women in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and around 40 per cent of women in South Asia, as well as Andean parts of Latin America.
Meanwhile, even in regions where incidents are less likely, as in East Asia and Western Europe, more than 16 per cent and 19 per cent of women have experienced intimate partner violence, respectively.
Psychological violence is another layer to the problem, with some 82 per cent of women parliamentarians in a recent study, reporting having experienced remarks, gestures, threats, or sexist comments while serving – most often via social media.
While gender-based violence can happen to anyone, women who identify with the LGBTI community, migrants and refugees, indigenous minorities, and those living through humanitarian crises, are particularly vulnerable to gender-based harm.
“Almost universally, most perpetrators of rape go unreported or unpunished”, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka explained. “For women to report in the first place requires a great deal of resilience to re-live the attack…In many countries, women know that they are overwhelmingly more likely to be blamed than believed.”
Attacks targeting women continue to be an obstacle to achieving equality, and impede the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to leave no one behind.
Several public events are being coordinated for this year’s International Day to commemorate the fight against gender-based violence, spotlighting rape specifically.
Criminalizing the offense, placing women in positions of power, and strengthening the capacity of law enforcement, are some steps to increase accountability in incidents of sexual assault.
The effects of such violations suppress voices and traumatize, at “an intolerable cost to society”, said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.
“No further generations must struggle to cope with a legacy of violation.”
#PardonForUSSoldiers; #WarCrimes; #UnitedNationsHumanRightsWing; #OHCHR
New York, Nov 19 (Canadian-Media): A presidential pardon for two United States soldiers accused of war crimes, and a sentence reduction for a third, “run against the letter and the spirit of international law which requires accountability for such violations”, the United Nations human rights wing said on Tuesday.
Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Image credit: UN Photo
“While pardons exist in international law, and can properly address issues of injustice or unfairness”, Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters at a regular press briefing in Geneva that these cases showed no circumstances to suggest anything other than “simply voiding the otherwise proper process of law in the cases”.
“These pardons send a disturbing signal to military forces all around the world”, he added.
According to news reports, Lieutenant Clint Lorance was tried and convicted for ordering the shooting of Afghanistan civilians in 2013 and handed down a 20-year prison sentence. Last Friday, he was given a full pardon.
Major Mathew Golsteyn was charged with executing an unarmed Afghan man who was a suspected Taliban bombmaker in 2010. He was scheduled to be tried in February.
And Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was charged with murdering a captive in Iraq. He was acquitted but received a demotion for posing with the corpse for a photograph. President Trump on Friday vowed to restore his rank.
“These three cases involve serious violations of international humanitarian law, both proven and alleged, including the shooting of a group of civilians and execution of a captured member of an armed group”, said Mr. Colville.
Some US news outlets applauded President Donald Trump’s reprieves, while others saw them as a sign of disregard for the decisions of military juries as well as for the judicial process itself.
“International Humanitarian Law establishes the obligation to investigate violations and prosecute war crimes”, reminded Mr. Colville.
He pointed out that by investigating the allegations, and initiating and completing criminal proceedings, the US military justice system had been in compliance with international law.
Underscoring that “victims of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law have the right to a remedy”, Mr. Colville maintained that the pardon terminating further criminal proceedings in the case of Major Mathew Golsteyn, was “particularly troubling”.
He elaborated that remedies include equal and effective access to justice, the right to the truth, and to see perpetrators serve punishments proportionate to the seriousness of their conduct, “rather than see them absolved of responsibility”.
#UNICEF; #ChildRights; #HumanRights; #PoorestChildren; #UnevenProgress
New York, Nov 19 (Canadian-Media): Although the world has made historic gains over the past three decades in improving children’s lives, urgent action is required if the poorest children are to feel the impact, a new UN report published on Monday warns.
Children raise their hands to answer a question in class at a UNICEF learning space in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. (8 July 2019). Image credit: © UNICEF Patrick Brown
The study by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) calls on countries to recommit to promises made under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted 30 years ago.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, noted that while increasing numbers of children are living longer, better and healthier lives, the odds continue to be stacked against the poorest and most vulnerable.
"In addition to the persistent challenges of health, nutrition and education, children today have to contend with new threats like climate change, online abuse and cyberbullying," she said.
"Only with innovation, new technologies, political will and increased resources will we help translate the vision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child into a reality for all children everywhere."
Uneven progress, emerging threats
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely and rapidly adopted international treaty in history, and has been ratified by more than 190 countries.
It acknowledges childhood, which lasts through age 18, as a special time in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity.
UNICEF reported that since its adoption, the global rate for under-five mortality has dropped by around 60 per cent, while the proportion of undernourished children has almost halved.
The Convention has also influenced numerous constitutions, laws and policies that reflect its guiding principles, which include non-discrimination, the right to protection and acting in the best interests of the child.
However, the report shows that progress has not been even.
UNICEF said the world’s children continue to confront age-old threats while new hazards loom over their future.
The poorest children are still likely to die from preventable causes before reaching their fifth birthday. Millions of the most disadvantaged are still at risk due to poverty, discrimination and marginalization. At the same time, cases of the childhood killer measles are on the rise as immunization coverage rates have slowed down since 2010.
Progress in education also is dismal. The report reveals that the number of primary level children out of school has remained static for more than a decade.
"Many of those who are in school are not learning the basics, let alone the skills they need to thrive in today’s economy," UNICEF added.
In recent years, young people have been speaking up and calling for action to address climate change. UNICEF said they are the ones most at-risk.
"Rapid changes in climate are spreading disease, increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, and creating food and water insecurity. Unless urgent action is taken, the worst for many children is yet to come," the UN agency warned.
Inclusive dialogue planned
UNICEF believes that where there is political will and determination, children’s lives improve, as documented by the report, which has been released ahead of World Children’s Day on 20 November.
The study calls for more data and evidence to accelerate progress and advance child rights, alongside recommendations such as involving young people in creating solutions.
UNICEF will use the coming 12 months to promote an inclusive global dialogue aimed at making the promise of the convention a reality for all children.
As Ms. Fore, the UNICEF chief, stated: "The Convention stands at a crossroads between its illustrious past and its future potential. It is up to us to recommit, take decisive steps and hold ourselves accountable."
#UN; #HumanRights; #SouthAmerica; #WidespreadArrests&Detentions
South America, Nov 16 (Canadian-Media): The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is urging authorities in Bolivia to ensure security forces comply with international standards on the use of force following the deaths of at least five protesters on Friday.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (file).
Image credit: UN Photo/Laura Jarriel
The South American country has plunged into political chaos following the resignation last week of President Evo Morales, with at least 17 people killed in demonstrations since then.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN rights chief, said while earlier deaths mostly resulted from clashes between rival protestors, the latest incidents appear to be due to the disproportionate use of force by the army and police.
With the country divided, she fears the situation could worsen.
"I am really concerned that the situation in Bolivia could spin out of control if the authorities do not handle it sensitively and in accordance with international norms and standards governing the use of force, and with full respect for human rights," she said in a statement issued on Saturday.
"The country is split and people on both sides of the political divide are extremely angry. In a situation like this, repressive actions by the authorities will simply stoke that anger even further and are likely to jeopardise any possible avenue for dialogue."
Widespread arrests inflaming tensions
Ms. Bachelet is also concerned that widespread arrests and detentions are adding to the tensions. More than 600 people have been detained since 21 October, many in the past few days, according to her office.
The UN Secretary-General has dispatched his Personal Envoy in efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
"This situation is not going to be resolved by force and repression," she said. "All sectors have the right to make their voice heard – this is the basis for democracy."
Ms Bachelet called for prompt, transparent and impartial investigations into the arrests, detentions, injuries and deaths that have occurred as a result of the crisis.
Data on these incidents also should be made available, she added.
#Bangladesh; #AllegedCrimesAgainstHumanity; #deportation
Bangladesh, Nov 15 (Canadian-Media): Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday authorized an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity, namely deportation, which have forced between 600,000 and one million Rohingya refugees out of Myanmar, into neighboring Bangladesh since 2016.
Pictured here, Rohingya refugee children wade through flood waters surrounding their families' shelters following an intense pre-monsoon storm in Shamlapur makeshift settlement in Cox's Bazar district, Bangladesh: UNICEF/UN0213967/Sokol
The pre-trial judges “accepted that there exists a reasonable basis to believe widespread and/or systematic acts of violence may have been committed that could qualify as crimes against humanity of deportation across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border” the Court said in a press statement, in addition to “persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion against the Rohingya population.”
After a reported military-led crackdown, widespread killings, rape and village burnings, nearly three-quarters of a million Rohingya fled Myanmar's Rakhine state in August 2017 to settle in crowded refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.
This is the second strike against the alleged crimes this week, as the tribunal’s decision follows a Monday submission by Gambia to the UN’s principal judicial organ, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Myanmar of “mass murder, rape, and genocidal acts” which violate its obligations under the Genocide Convention, in addition to destruction of villages, arbitrary detention, and torture.
As a member to the Genocide prevention treaty, Gambia “refused to stay silent”, and as a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the small African nation has taken legal action to assist the persecuted majority-Muslim Rohingya, with support by other Muslim countries.
While the UN’s ICJ, known as the ‘World Court’, settles disputes submitted by States on a range of matters, the ICC is the world’s only permanent criminal tribunal with a mandate to investigate and prosecute individuals who participate in international atrocity crimes, including genocide and crimes against humanity. In July, the ICC’s top Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, requested an investigation be open into the alleged crimes committed since October of 2016, concerning Myanmar and Bangladesh.
At that time, her Office’s preliminary examination found “a reasonable basis” to believe that at least 700,00 Rohingya were deported from Myanmar to Bangladesh “through a range of coercive acts causing suffering and serious injury.”
Under the Rome Statute that created the ICC, which highlights crimes against humanity as one of its four crucial international crimes, the top Prosecutor concluded sufficient legal conditions had been met to open an investigation.
While Myanmar is not a State party to the treaty, Bangladesh ratified the Statute in 2010, meaning authorization to investigate does not extend to all crimes potentially committed in Myanmar, but will focus on violations committed in part on Bangladeshi territory, the ICJ said in July.
‘Only justice and accountability’ can stop the violence Judges forming the pre-trial chamber, Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia, Judge Robert Fremr, and Judge Geofreey Henderson received views on this request by or on behalf of hundreds of thousands of alleged victims.
According to the ICC Registry, victims insist they want an investigation by the Court, and many “believe that only justice and accountability can ensure that the perceived circle of violence and abuse comes to an end.”
“Noting the scale of the alleged crimes and the number of victims allegedly involved, the Chamber considered that the situation clearly reaches the gravity threshold,” the Court said.
The pre-trial Chamber in addition authorized the commencement of the investigation in relation to any crime, including future crime, so long as it is within the jurisdiction of the Court, and is allegedly committed at least in part in the Rome Statute State Party, Bangladesh, or any other territory accepting the jurisdiction.
The alleged crime must also be sufficiently linked to the present situation, and must have been committed on or after the date of the Statute’s entry into force for Bangladesh or the relevant State Party.
Judges from the ICC have given the greenlight for prosecutors to commence collection of necessary evidence, which could result in the judge's issuance of summonses to appear in court or warrants of arrest. Parties to the Statute have a legal obligation to cooperate fully with the ICC, nonmembers invited to cooperate may decide to do so voluntarily.
‘Diversity is a form of wealth, not a factor of division,’ UNESCO chief says ahead of International Day for Tolerance
New York, Nov 15 (Canadian-Media): At a time when extremism and fanaticism are too often unleashed, when “the venom of hatred” continues to poison a part of humanity, “tolerance has never been more vital a virtue”, the United Nations cultural agency’s chief has said in her message on the International Day for Tolerance.
Children in Ukraine play with an SDG poster illustrating children from different races around the world. Image credit: UNDP Ukraine/Oleksandr Ratushnyak
“Tolerance is more than standing idly by or remaining insensitive to differences between men and women, cultures and beliefs”, Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said, but instead a “state of mind, an awareness and a requirement.”
In 1996, the UN General Assembly invited Member States to observe the Day each year on 16 November to, among other things, foster mutual understanding among cultures and peoples. The 2019 edition of the Day will be marked this Saturday.
Ms. Azoulay stressed that tolerance is “to realize that cultural diversity is a form of wealth, not a factor of division”.
“It is to perceive that each culture, beyond immediate or apparent differences, is a constituent part of universality and speaks the common language of humanity.”
Quoting former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, she said that tolerance is “a virtue that makes peace possible”.
Since its foundation, UNESCO has aimed to “build peace by combating the intolerance that still too often tears our societies apart, and by relentlessly fighting all forms of racism and discrimination”, the agency chief maintained.
Ms. Azoulay cited the words of former Director-General Federico Mayor: “UNESCO bears and echoes the message of tolerance, true to its mission of being ‘the conscience of the United Nations’”.
In conclusion, Ms. Azoulay invited everyone to share UNESCO’s message of tolerance and peace.
Fighting intolerance requires
#UN; #HumanRightsExperts; #violenece; #ChileProtests
United Nations human rights experts on Friday condemned the excessive use of force during Chile’s ongoing street protests, and in a statement underscored that violence “can never be the answer to people's social and political demands”.
Protesters take to the streets in Santiago, Chile. (October 2019).
Image credit: UN News/Diana Leal
At least 20 people are reported to have been killed and about 1,600 injured, including police officers, during protests that began in early October over rising transport costs and inequality, that has become deeply entrenched in the Latin American country.
Throughout the weeks of demonstrations, the Human Rights Council-appointed independent experts have spoken out against the excessive force used by security forces.
“The high number of wounded and the way in which non-lethal weapons have been used, seem to indicate that the use of force was excessive and violated the requirements of necessity and proportionality," the seven experts maintained.
As violence escalated, a state of emergency was declared in several provinces on 19 October. And to date, thousands have also been detained, including children and adolescents.
Reports of children beaten, sexual violence
The experts also expressed deep concern over reports of excessive force against people prior to being detained, and allegations of the ill-treatment and beating children, which may constitute torture.
Moreover, there have been reports of sexual violence against women, men and adolescents, including practices such as forced stripping, touching and rape in detention.
“Women and children have been actively participating in the ongoing protests and the State must address their specific protection concerns”, the experts asserted.
Rejecting all violence committed by individuals, the experts stressed that the Chilean Government has an obligation “not only to respect human rights but to protect people against violent acts committed by private individuals”.
They spelled out that the Government officials and politicians “must allow protests…by isolating those who resort to violence, while guaranteeing that everyone in the country can enjoy their rights”.
The independent experts welcomed Chile’s decision to invite a UN Human Rights Office mission to assess the situation through identifying the main patterns of human rights violations, analyzing the response of Chilean State institutions as well as the causal factors leading to the mass-demonstrations.
The experts have corresponded with the authorities and discussed their willingness to pursue and determine the responsibilities in cases of human rights violations, particularly those committed by State agents.
In their capacity as independent experts, Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association; José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working group on Arbitrary Detention; Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; and Meskerem Geset Techane, chair of the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation.
Their positions are honorary and the experts are neither UN staff, nor paid for their work.