#UN; #Covid19Pandemic; #HumanRights; #vaccineDistribution; #Solidarity; #Migrants
UN/Canadian-Media: The COVID-19 pandemic “will not end for anyone, until it ends for everyone”, an independent UN human rights expert said on Friday, advocating for an equitable and globally-coordinated vaccine distribution program.
India has begun the world's biggest COVID-19 vaccination program. Image credit: UNICEF/Ruhani Kaur
“The virus can still travel from the vastly unvaccinated massive population of the Global South to the Global North, including in its increasingly mutating forms”, Obiora Okafor, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and international solidarity, said in a statement.
He explained that with mutations constantly evolving, only inoculating rich countries would likely “complicate or delay” the eradication of the virus.
Skewed vaccine delivery
The last few weeks of 2020 witnessed the approval of several COVID-19 vaccines by regulators in various countries, “offering much hope to billions of people worldwide”, according to the UN expert.
And while several States, mostly in the north, have already secured large quantities of vaccine and have begun inoculation campaigns, this has not been the case for most of the Global South, where close to 90 per cent of the world’s population lives.
“The world, therefore, faces a sharp and highly problematic vaccine-divide in which the much richer Global North States, which host a very small percentage of the global population, have so far cornered the vast majority of available COVID-19 vaccines, leaving the bulk of the world’s population with almost no access to these medicines”, Mr. Okafor said.
“A globally coordinated vaccine distribution program is highly preferable to the individualized approaches adopted by all-too-many of the richer States”, Mr. Okafor said.
International vaccine solidarity
He said it was vital that States and non-State actors cooperate - such as through the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX), which, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator – or risk a stalled recovery.
While noting that COVAX aims to fairly distribute two billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021, Mr. Okafor emphasized that “international vaccine solidarity” be favored over “international vaccine competition”.
“Given the great urgency of ensuring for everyone, everywhere, as rapid and effective access to COVID-19 vaccines as possible, I, therefore, urge urgent and strong action by States and other actors toward a course correction”, he said.
Fair access for migrants
Separately, UN independent experts González Morales and Tlaleng Mofokeng have urged States to ensure that migrants are also included in national COVID vaccination programmes, saying that global immunization access for everyone who needs them “is the only solution” to ending the pandemic.
This includes priority groups of vulnerable people “regardless of who they are” or their migration status, said the rights experts.
They also called on world leaders to refrain from discriminatory discourse that could lead to the exclusion of migrants in irregular situations from the global public health response.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and are neither UN staff nor paid for their work.
Violations of human rights, international humanitarian law must be punished to prevent ongoing violence and conflict
#UN; #OHCHR; #CentralAfricanRepublic; #InternationalHumanitarianLaw;#CPC
UN/OHCHR/Canadian-Media: A UN human rights expert said today impunity will continue to fuel violence and conflict in the Central African Republic unless perpetrators, co-perpetrators and accomplices of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are arrested, prosecuted and tried.
Coalition of Patriots for Change. Image credit: Website
Yao Agbetse, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the CAR, said the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) had obstructed the country’s electoral campaign in December, prevented the deployment of election materials, disrupted the mobilisation of voters to carry out their democratic right, and burned polling stations.
“I deplore the fact that thousands of Central Africans were unable to exercise their right to vote and that many were victims of torture or ill-treatment and death threats for exercising their right to vote in the first round of elections on December 27, 2020,” the expert said. “The CPC attacked several localities, including Kaga Bandoro, Bossangoa, Batangafo, Bozoum, Bocaranga, Koui, Carnot, and other locations in the center, west, and east of the country. The capital Bangui was also attacked on January 13.”
The Independent Expert said he condemned the loss of life among the civilian population and the UN’s MINUSCA peacekeepers, and deplored the many casualties.
“The recruitment and use of children by the CPC is a crime under international law. Thousands of civilians were forced to flee their homes into the bush, while thousands more fled the violence to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. The population lives in fear and dread,” he said.
The already fragile humanitarian situation had further deteriorated with more than half of the population in vital need of humanitarian assistance. The premises of some humanitarian organisations have been ransacked with the aim of depriving the population of the humanitarian assistance.
“Basic necessities are becoming scarcer and their prices are soaring in Bangui because of insecurity on the supply routes to the capital, with a considerable impact on the population's livelihood. Schools and training centres are closed in the hinterland and pastoralists and farmers can no longer carry out their activities because of insecurity and fear. Ultimately, food insecurity and extreme poverty are likely to worsen,” Agbetse said.
The Independent Expert said that armed groups and their supporters will not escape justice and will be held accountable before Central African and international courts.
“I urge MINUSCA, the Special Criminal Court (SPC) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to promptly investigate serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the CPC and other armed groups.”
The Independent Expert condemned the support of former president François Bozizé to the CPC and deplored the fact that a former head of state incited violence, obstructed the electoral process and endangered the lives of civilians.
“I call on the Security Council, including the CAR Sanctions Committee, which has listed individuals on its sanctions list, including François Bozizé and Nourredine Adam in 2014, Abdoulaye Hissène in 2017, Martin Koumtamadji [aka Abdoulaye Miskine] and Bi Sidi Souleman [aka Sidiki] in 2020, to contribute to the fight against impunity in CAR by drawing the consequences of recent events in which some of these individuals are once again implicated.
“Without a strong message combined with deterrent actions, including coercion where appropriate, the worst could happen: the implosion of the country and massive violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law,” the expert said.
He urged the international community, including neighbouring countries, to make every effort to wean the armed groups off any supplies of weapons, logistics or military technical support and called on the CAR Government and the entire political class to prioritise an inclusive political dialogue to promote peace and stability in the country.
The Independent Expert recalls the responsibility of the Central African authorities, with the support of MINUSCA and its partners, to protect its population, including the internally displaced population, while stressing that the defence and security forces must continue to carry out their regalian missions with due respect of human rights and international humanitarian law.
#UN; #HumanRights; #Vietnamesejournalists; #VietNam
UN/Canadian-Media: UN human rights experts said today that the heavy sentences handed down against three Vietnamese journalists and human rights defenders, just weeks ahead of a key meeting of the ruling Communist Party, sends a chilling message to human rights defenders and those working in the media.
Pham Chi Dung. Image credit: Facebook page
“The sentences given to Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Le Huu Minh Tuan are part of a rising trend in prosecutions, arbitrary detention, reprisals, ill treatment and unfair trials targeting independent journalists, bloggers, pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders in Viet Nam,” UN Special Rapporteurs said.
“Coming just weeks ahead of the National Congress of the Communist Party, the convictions and long sentences are not only a blatant suppression of independent journalism but also a clear attempt to create a chilling effect among those willing to criticise the government.”
The Congress sets the country’s key policies for the next five years.
Pham Chi Dung, the founder of Independent Journalist Association of Viet Nam (IAJVN), was arrested on 21 November 2019, 11 days after signing a letter urging the European Union to delay the approval of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement until Vietnam improved its human rights record.
Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Le Huu Minh Tuan, Vice Chair and Member of the IAJVN, were arrested on 23 May 2020 and 12 June 2020 respectively, after they published commentaries on democracy and advocated for freedom of expression. On 5 January 2021, Mr. Dung was sentenced to 15 years in jail, and the other two were given 11-year terms.
The Special Rapporteurs expressed particular concern that the journalists had been charged under Article 117 of the Penal Code for offences related to “propaganda against the State”.
“We are deeply disturbed at the continued use of Article 117 of the Penal Code which is overly broad and appears to be aimed at silencing those who seek to exercise their human right to freely express their views and share information with others,” the human rights experts said.
“Although the Government of Vietnam has said that it only prosecutes and puts on trial those breaking the law, it is clear that Article 117 is not in line with the international human rights obligations of Vietnam and should be revised,” they added.
They called for the immediate and unconditional release of Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Le Huu Minh Tuan. They also called for the release of all others currently detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression, such as Le Anh Hung, another IJAVN member and until his arrest in July 2018 a prominent contributor to the Voice of America Vietnamese service.
The Special Rapporteurs are in contact with the authorities on this matter.
#UN; #HumanRights; #Russia; #Jouralists
UN/Canadian-Media: The UN human rights office (OHCHR) have raised alarm over the arrest of Russian opposition activist Aleksei Navalny and called for his immediate release. The office said in a tweet that they were "deeply troubled" by the arrest and called on the Government to respect his right to legal due process.
Moscow, Russia’s capital. Opposition activist Alexei Navalny returned to the city on Monday and was arrested. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
According to reports, Mr. Navalny was arrested on Sunday upon return to Moscow from Germany, where he had been recovering after allegedly being poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.
In a statement issued later in the day, two independent UN human rights experts saluted the bravery of the anti-corruption activist, and called on Russia to release him while also ensuring that his life and well-being, are protected.
Agnes Callamardm the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Special Rapporteur Irene Khan, who covers the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said it was “appalling that Mr. Navalny was arrested for breaching parole terms, for a sentence he should not have received in the first place and despite the authorities being fully aware that he had been several months in Germany recovering from an attempt on his life”.
OHCHR said in the press release that it was believed Mr. Navalny’s arrest was related to alleged violations of a suspended sentence for a fraud conviction following proceedings that the European Court of Human Rights said in 2018, were arbitrary and unfair. The Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia said in a statement that Mr. Navalny missed regular check-ins, required for his suspended sentence, without a valid reason.
In August last year, Aleksei Navalny fell violently ill while on board a domestic flight from the town of Tomsk, in Siberia, to Moscow. After remaining in coma for two weeks, he was air-lifted to Berlin for treatment, after Russian authorities allowed him to be moved.
Several weeks later, the German government reported that toxicology tests conducted by a special military laboratory revealed he had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.
Novichok is the name of a group of seven toxic chemical agents developed by the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.
Mr. Navalny has returned to Russia, despite having been the victim of an attempted killing, the experts pointed out, and knowing he could be arrested. When his plane landed, he said that his return to Russia was the happiest moment in his life of the past five months.
“We salute his courage and will continue to follow his case closely”, the independent experts said.
“Journalists, activists and supporters, who were arrested at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, simply for doing their job and peacefully exercising their rights to expression and peaceful assembly must also be immediately released,” they added.
The UN experts noted that they had previously raised their concerns with the Government and will continue to seek to engage in dialogue on these issues and monitor the situation.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
#ILO; #ChildLabor; #EliminationOfChildLabor; #Covid19Pandemic;
ILO/Canadian-Media: The International Labor Organization (ILO), in collaboration with the Alliance 8.7 global partnership, is launching the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor, to encourage legislative and practical actions to eradicate child labor worldwide ILO reports said.
Image credit: @ Jake Brewer
Child labor has decreased by 38 percent in the last decade but 152 million children are still affected. The COVID-19 pandemic has considerably worsened the situation, but joint and decisive action can reverse this trend,
The International Year was unanimously adopted in a UN General Assembly resolution in 2019. The main aim of the year is to urge governments to do what is necessary to achieve Target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Target 8.7 asks the Member States to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 to end child labor in all its forms.
A virtual event will take place on 21 January to launch the International Year. A range of stakeholders will take part, including the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, the Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, and child labor survivor and activist, Amar Lal.
Throughout the year a number of events will raise awareness of a problem that affects one in 10 children.
The joint initiative encourages regional, national, and organizational stakeholders and individuals to identify concrete actions that they will take by December 2021, to help end child labor. The deadline to submit these Action Pledges is 30 March. Pledge makers are invited to document their efforts and progress throughout the year, through videos, interviews, blogs, and impact stories.
In the last 20 years, almost 100 million children have been removed from child labor, bringing numbers down from 246 million in 2000 to 152 million in 2016.
“There is no place for child labor in society. It robs children of their future and keeps families in poverty," Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General.
However, progress across regions is uneven. Almost half of the child labor happens in Africa (72 million children), followed by Asia and the Pacific (62 million). 70 percent of children in child labor work in agriculture, mainly in a subsistence and commercial farming and livestock herding. Almost half of all these children work in occupations or situations considered hazardous for their health and lives.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought additional poverty to these already vulnerable populations and may reverse years of progress in the fight against child labor. School closures have aggravated the situation and many millions of children are working to contribute to the family income. The pandemic has also made women, men, and children more vulnerable to exploitation.
“There is no place for child labor in society,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder. “It robs children of their future and keeps families in poverty. This International Year is an opportunity for governments to step up and achieve Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals by taking concrete actions to eliminate child labor for good. With COVID-19 threatening to reverse years of progress, we need to deliver on promises now more than ever.”
The International Year will prepare the ground for the V Global Conference on Child Labour (VGC) that will take place in South Africa in 2022, where stakeholders will share experiences and make additional commitments towards ending child labor in all its forms by 2025, and forced labor, human trafficking and modern slavery by 2030.
The ILO has been working for the abolition of child labor throughout its 100-year history. One of the first Conventions its members adopted was on Minimum Age in Industry.
The organization is a partner of Alliance 8.7, a global partnership that aims to eradicate forced labor, modern slavery, human trafficking, and child labor around the world, as outlined in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
#UN; #OHCHR; #DeliberateDistortionOfFacts; #racialethnichatred; #whitesupremacy, #antiSemiticlogos
UN/Canadian-Media: Human Rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said on Jan 8 that Wednesday’s attack on the US Capitol, “demonstrated clearly the destructive impact of sustained, deliberate distortion of facts, and incitement to violence and hatred by political leaders.”
United Nations Human Rights. Image credit: ohchr.org
Shamdasani said, “allegations of electoral fraud have been invoked to try to undermine the right to political participation,” and called on leaders from across the political spectrum, ”including the President of the United States, to disavow false and dangerous narratives, and to encourage their supporters to do so as well.”
The spokesperson noted “with dismay the serious threats and destruction of property faced by media professionals,” and expressed support for “calls from many quarters for a thorough investigation into Wednesday’s events.” She also expressed concern “that some of the protestors were clearly displaying symbols of racial and ethnic hatred and white supremacy, including the Confederate flag, clothes displaying anti-Semitic logos, and a noose erected from across the Capitol,” and condemned “this display of overtly racist symbols.”