#ShiaMuslim; #UNCommitteeontheRightsoftheChild; #UnitedNations; #SaudiArabia; #terrorism
United Nations, Apr 24 (Canadian-Media/UN): Despite repeated appeals by the United Nations human rights system, Saudi Arabia’s decision to go ahead with the beheading of 37 men, drew strong condemnation on Wednesday from United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, UN reports said.
Image credit: UN Photo/Laura Jarriel: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (file).
“I strongly condemn these shocking mass executions across six cities in Saudi Arabia yesterday in spite of grave concerns raised about these cases by numerous UN Special Rapporteurs, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and others,” she said in a statement.
Amid allegations that confessions were obtained through torture, she voiced concern over a lack of due process and fair trial guarantees, and said it was “particularly abhorrent” that at the time of their sentencing, at least three of those executed were minors found guilty of taking part in protests against the Saudi authorities.
“I urge the Government of Saudi Arabia to immediately launch a review of its counter-terrorism legislation and amend the law to expressly prohibit the imposition of the death penalty against minors”, underscored Ms. Bachelet.
According to news reports quoting the Saudi State-run news agency, the 37 had been charged with adopting “extremist, terrorist ideology” and forming terrorist cells “to corrupt and disturb security, spread chaos and cause sectarian discord.” They were reportedly accused of “cooperating with hostile parties in a way that damaged the high interests of the homeland.”
Most of the men belonged to the Shi’a Muslim minority and one of their bodies was subsequently put on public display. In several of the cases, various UN human rights experts had raised serious concerns over their treatment, with the authorities.
Beginning in 2013, 11 of the executed had reportedly been arrested for spying for Iran, some of whose lawyers boycotted the proceedings because they had been denied access to their clients and case files. Others were detained for anti-Government protests.
Ms. Bachelet also expressed deep concern for the fate of those who remain on death row, including Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdulla al-Zaher, whose cases have also been taken up by the UN human rights system.
“I appeal to the authorities to halt the pending executions and to engage constructively with the UN Human Rights Office and independent experts on the many concerns related to the imposition of the death penalty in the country,” she stated.
The High Commissioner reminded Saudi Arabia of its obligations to respect international human rights law, particularly as a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture.
Protect women’s rights ‘before, during and after conflict’ UN chief tells high-level Security Council debate
#internationalpeaceandsecurity; #SexualViolenceinConflict; UNSecurityCouncil;
United Nations, Apr 23 (Canadian-Media/UN): Over the course of the past decade, there has been “a paradigm shift” in understanding the devastating impact of sexual violence in conflict on international peace and security, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council during a high-level debate on Tuesday, UN reports said.
UNMISS/Isaac Billy: A South Sudanese rape victim narrates her ordeal at an undisclosed location near Bentiu town. (December 2018)
At the meeting marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of resolution 1888, which created the mandate of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Council adopted a German-drafted resolution to reduce sexual violence in conflict and end rape as a weapon of war, with 13 in favour, and two countries, Russia and China, abstaining.
Lengthy negotiations reportedly took place over the wording of the final resolution, with some Members arguing against the establishment of a formal new reporting mechanism, and also references to womens' reproductive and sexual health service provisions.
Addressing the overall scourge, Mr. Guterres said that “Local civil society organizations, many of them women’s organizations, are on the frontlines of our efforts to prevent and provide redress for this crime, and they deserve our strong and consistent support."
Sexual violence in war “largely affects women and girls because it is closely linked to broader issues of gender inequality and discrimination”, Mr. Guterres said, adding that “prevention” must be based on “promoting women’s rights and gender equality in all areas, before, during and after conflict”.
“This must include women’s full and effective participation in political, economic and social life and ensuring accessible and responsive justice and security institutions”, he said.
Mr. Guterres also recognized the links between sexual violence in conflict, gender inequality and discrimination, and violent extremism and terrorism.
“Extremists and terrorists often build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and use sexual violence in various ways, from forced marriage to virtual enslavement”, he explained. “Sexual violence continues to fuel conflict and severely impacts the prospects for lasting peace”.
“I encourage this Council to include the prevention of conflict-related sexual violence in all your country-specific resolutions, and in the mandates of peace operations”, he said.
Mr. Guterres stressed the need to strengthen justice and accountability, saying that despite a handful of high-profile convictions, “there is widespread impunity for sexual violence in conflict” and that most “are never reported, investigated and much less prosecuted”.
He encouraged the Council to continue working together “to reconcile differences”, as the “global “response to these crimes must ensure punishment of the perpetrators and comprehensive support to survivors with full respect for their human rights”.
“Together, we can and must replace impunity with justice, and indifference with action”, stressed the Secretary-General.
‘Utterly shell-shocked’ communities
Although stigma and other social barriers contribute to the chronic underreporting of sexual violence, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, told the Council that “we now understand much more about its many forms, drivers, and impacts, and about the devastating physical, psychological, and social burdens survivors bear”.
And yet, after a decade of concerted attention and action to deal with this crime, she spelled out: “Wars are still being fought on, and over, the bodies of women and girls”.
“Sexual violence fuels conflict and severely impacts the prospects for lasting peace” Ms. Patten stated, adding that it is used “precisely because it is such an effective means to target individuals and devastate entire communities”.
Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, addresses the Security Council meeting on women and peace and security, with a focus on sexual violence in conflict. (April 2019), by UN Photo/Loey Felipe
The UN envoy painted a picture of victims targeted because of their ethnic, religious, political or clan affiliation.
Ms. Patten recounted a visit to South Sudan where she was “horrified” by the “sheer brutality of the sexual violence, perpetrated along ethnic lines against women and girls, even children as young as 4 years”.
She described “utterly shell-shocked” communities in the UN Protection of Civilian site in the capital, Juba, who were ganged raped and abducted for sexual slavery.
“Imagine a desperation so raw that parents would marry their daughter off to one stranger to spare her rape by many”, she asserted.
“If we are ever to prevent these crimes from occurring in the first place, we must confront the unacceptable reality that it is still largely cost-free to rape a woman, child or man in armed conflicts around the world”, she said. “To turn the tide, we must increase the cost and consequences for those who commit, command or condone sexual violence in conflict”.
“We must convert a centuries-old culture of impunity into a culture of accountability,” concluded the Special Representative.
‘Stand on the right side of history’World-renowned human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, recounted some of the “important milestones” she had reached advocating on behalf of Yazadi women and girls from northern Iraq, thousands of whom were sold into sexual slavery by extremist group ISIL.
She said that two weeks ago in Germany, she had represented the mother of a five-year old Yazidi child, at the first trial against an ISIS terrorist fighter, facing war crimes charges.
Ms. Clooney said the mother had been “enslaved, chained outdoors to a window, and left to slowly die of thirst in the scorching heat” but now justice was being served and he “faces charges of murder as a war crime”.
“Crimes committed by ISIS against women and girls are unlike anything we have witnessed in modem time” she said, adding that “the question of bringing them to justice has barely raised a whisper…if we don’t act now, it will be too late”.
UN Photo/Loey Felipe | Secretary-General António Guterres (left) with (left to right): Amal Clooney, Barrister; Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of UNODC; and Heiko Maas, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany.
“This is your Nuremberg moment”, she told the Council, referring to the trials carried out in Germany after World War Two that prosecuted Nazis and others indicted on charges of crimes against humanity.
‘A dangerous phenomenon’Sexual violence crimes committed against women across the world have become “a dangerous phenomenon” that requires action by all, Nadia Murad, UN Office on Drugs and Crime Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, told the Council.
The Yazidi survivor of rape-turned-advocate, spoke of how the thousands of Yazidi women and girls had been enslaved of in front of the local and international community, remarking that “no one intervened to stop them”.
Moreover, the genocide of the Yazidis continues.
“The social fabric of an entire society has been torn, the hopes and aspirations of generations were wasted”, she bemoaned. “We were prevented from practicing our traditions… [and] there were dozens of mass graves across our region.
She said that the international community must “shoulder the responsibility” to rescue those still missing and in captivity since 2014.
Ms. Murad said that some Yazidi women who had been subjected to sexual violence at the hand of ISIS had “broken the barrier of silence” and “told their stories to the world”, hoping for justice.
“However, so far, not a single person was tried for sexual enslavement crimes against the Yazidis”, she informed the Council, adding that more than 350,000 Yazidis are still displaced in camps.
“After five years since the genocide against my people, as the world stood and watched, no clear steps have been taken to save the surviving Yazidis”, she said.
Asking that those perpetrators who “used Yazidi women as weapons of war” be brought to justice, Ms. Murad urged that they be tried before an international tribunal “for crimes of genocide and sexual violence against women and children” to send a message to others that would “prevent such crimes in the future."
Progress against torture in Afghan detention centres, but Government needs to do more, says UN report
UnitedNations; #UNAMA; #OHCHR; #NationalPreventiveMechanism;
United Nations, Apr 17 (Canadian-Media): Torture is likely still widespread in Afghanistan’s State-run prisons for detainees linked to ongoing conflict there, the UN said on Wednesday, while also noting an “encouraging reduction” in the level of abuse since 2016.
UNAMA/Eric Kanalstein: An elderly woman being held at a female detention centre in northern Afghanistan (2010).
Based on interviews with more than 600 detainees and published jointly by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), their latest report on the treatment of prisoners in 77 facilities in 28 out of 34 provinces indicates that an average of nearly one in three, provided “credible and reliable” accounts of suffering.
In the previous reporting period, covering 2015 and 2016, the ratio was closer to four in 10.
Beatings represented the most common form of torture and ill-treatment, according to the data, which also noted that “the vast majority” of detainees held for alleged links to extremist group ISIL (also known as Daesh) or other opposition forces, said they had been tortured or ill-treated to force them to confess - and that the treatment stopped once they did so.
Significant differences in the treatment of detainees were found depending on where they were held, with one Afghan National Police (ANP) facility in Kandahar, linked to a 77 per cent torture rate - well above the 31 per cent ANP average.
The Kandahar findings included allegations of “brutal” forms of torture such as “suffocation, electric shocks, pulling of genitals and suspension from ceilings”, UNAMA and OHCHR said, while underlining that abuse allegations in ANP detention centres had fallen - from a 45 per cent average – since 2016.
The report, which finds that youngsters are at higher risk of suffering mistreatment, discusses how detainees’ rights are violated in other areas.
These include a lack of legal safeguards to prevent torture, difficulties in gaining access to lawyers and the continued absence of accountability for perpetrators, with very limited referrals to prosecution.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Michelle Bachelet, said the report’s findings demonstrated that the embattled Government’s policies put in place to combat torture and ill-treatment were having an effect, but they were far from sufficient.
“A year ago, on this day, the Government of Afghanistan committed itself to the prevention of torture by acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture,” Ms. Bachelet said.
“I urge the Government to work swiftly to create a National Preventive Mechanism to ensure independent, impartial scrutiny of the treatment of detainees. A well-resourced watchdog of this sort, which is able to make unannounced visits to places of detention and raise awareness of what constitutes torture and ill-treatment according to international human rights law, can go a long way towards the ultimate goal of fully eradicating torture.”
Also highlighted in the report are concerns over an Afghan National Army-run detention facility in Parwan, in the north-east of the country.
These include overcrowding and the use of solitary confinement as the sole disciplinary measure, despite progress and “tangible results” made by the Government in implementing a national plan to eliminate torture.
“We welcome the steps taken by the Government to prevent and investigate cases of torture and ill-treatment over the past two years,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan.
“However…there is still a long way to go to eradicate this horrendous practice among conflict-related detainees,” he added. “Respect for the rule of law and human rights is the best way to create the conditions for sustainable peace.”
More than four in 10 women, live in fear of refusing partner’s sexual demands, new UN global study finds
#UNFPA; #childbirth; #LGBTI; #sexualrights, #familyplanning
United Nations, Apr 11 Canadian-Media): More than four in 10 women in 51 countries surveyed, feel they have no choice but to agree to their partner’s sexual demands, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA, said on Wednesday, noting that they are also unable to make basic decisions about getting pregnant and accessing health care for themselves.
Monica Ferro, Director of UNFPA Geneva, said the figures were “worrisome” and it was essential to raise the level of consent and access to vital health services, for millions of women around the world. “Don’t forget: each one of these numbers is a person”, she added.
Warning that women and girls left without decent reproductive rights are unable to have the future they want, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem called on world leaders to “re-commit” to ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights for all – a pledge made at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.
“Without access, they lack the power to make decisions about their own bodies, including whether or when to become pregnant,” Dr. Kanem insisted.
At that meeting in Egypt, 179 governments called for all people to have access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including voluntary family planning, and safe pregnancy and childbirth services.
“I call on world leaders to re-commit to the promises made in Cairo 25 years ago”, said Dr. Kanem. “The world will have a historic opportunity to complete the unfinished business of the ICPD at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 to be held in Kenya in November, where Governments, activists and stakeholders will rally to protect the gains made so far, and fulfill the promise of the ICPD agenda, so that no one is left behind.”
The findings, relating to women aged 15-49, are being published for the first time, as part of UNFPA’s State of World Population 2019 report.
800 a day die from preventable causes related to childbirth The report shows that an estimated 214 million women cannot easily access contraceptives because of cultural and economic obstacles - despite their increasing availability - while more than 800 women die every day from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth.
According to the analysis, the absence of reproductive and sexual rights has a major and negative repercussions on women’s education, income and safety, leaving them “unable to shape their own futures”.
Those women and girls left behind “are typically poor, rural and less educated”, Ms. Ferro said, adding that “two-thirds of all maternal deaths today occur in sub-Saharan Africa”.
In addition to the rural and urban poor, unmet needs for sexual and reproductive health services are also highest in marginalized groups – including minority ethnic groups – young people, unmarried people, LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) individuals and those with disabilities.
The blight of early marriage Early marriage continues to present a major cultural obstacle to female empowerment and better reproductive rights, the UNFPA report suggests.
“A girl who marries when she is 10 will probably leave school,” Ms. Ferro said. “And because she leaves school, she won’t get the negotiating skills, and she won’t get the specific skills which will allow her to then get a better-paid job.”
In addition to economic concerns, girls who marry early face serious health risks too, added the senior official: “If she is married at 10, the probability is, that she will start child-bearing before her body is even ready for that, not to talk about her mind...This will also increase the possibilities of her going through complications in pregnancy, and complications in childbirth.”
‘Staggering’ rise in sexually-transmitted infections Additional health risks caused by barriers that block women’s access to contraception also include a “staggering” 376 million new infections of chlamydia, gonorrhoea or syphilis every day, among people between the ages of 15 and 44, the UNFPA Geneva Director added.
Despite these concerns, the UNFPA report highlights that “untold millions” have enjoyed healthier and more productive lives in the 50 years since the agency was founded, thanks to pressure from civil society and governments to dramatically reduce unintended pregnancies and maternal deaths.
Highlighting positive changes in the last half-century, the report shows that in 1969, the average number of births per woman was 4.8, compared with 2.9 in 1994, and 2.5 today.
Fertility rates in least-developed countries have dropped significantly in that time too; from 6.8 in 1969, to 5.6 in 1994 and 3.9 in 2019, while the number of women who died from pregnancy-related causes has decreased from 369 per 100,000 births in 1994, to 216 in 2015.
In addition, while 24 per cent of women used modern contraceptives in 1969, that percentage increased to 52 per cent in 1994 and 58 per cent in 2019, UNFPA says.
Conflict and climate disasters leave reproductive rights forgotten Looking ahead to future challenges, the UN agency highlights the threat to women’s and girls’ reproductive rights posed by emergencies caused by conflict or climate disasters.
Without access, (women) lack the power to make decisions about their own bodies, including whether or when to become pregnant - UNFPA chief, Natalia Kanem
Some 35 million women, girls and young people will need life-saving sexual and reproductive health services this year, as well as services to address gender-based violence, in humanitarian settings, it warns.
“Every day, more than 500 women and girls including in countries with emergency settings, die during pregnancy and childbirth, due to the absence of skilled birth attendants or emergency obstetric procedures,” Ms. Ferro said.
50 million 10-year-old girls ‘forced to trade sexuality and fertility’ Echoing that appeal, Judith Bruce, one of 15 “champions of change” featured in the report for their positive influence in sexual and reproductive health and rights, called for the UN’s 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals to be used to drive investment to places where child marriage, sexual coercion and poverty overlap.
Some 50 million 10-year-old girls in the world’s poorest countries face growing pressures “to trade sexuality and fertility” in the face of “increasing climate emergencies, conflict, displacement, scarcity and stress”, Ms. Bruce insisted.
#Wikileaks; #JulianAssange; #London; #UnitedKingdom; #humanrightsviolations
London, Apr 11 (Canadian-Media): Independent United Nations (UN) rights experts on Thursday said the arrest of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange by police in the United Kingdom, after the Ecuadorian Government decided to stop granting him asylum in their London embassy, exposed him to “the risk of serious human rights violations”, if extradited to the United States, UN media reports said.
Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, Agnes Callamard, tweeted that in “expelling Assange from the Embassy” and allowing his arrest, it had taken Mr. Assange “one step closer to extradition”. She added that the UK had now arbitrarily-detained the controversial anti-secrecy journalist and campaigner, “possibly endangering his life”.
UN Photo/Mark Garten: Press Briefing by Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. She tweeted that the explusion of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London exposed him to "risks of serious human rights violations".
Mr. Assange took refuge inside the embassy in 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden by the UK authorities where he faced charges, since dropped, of sexual assault. But he also faces US federal conspiracy charges, relating to the leak of a vast number of Government documents to his Wikileaks website, by the former US intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning. The US argues that publication by the investigative site, endangered the lives of its citizens working overseas.
According to reports, the UK will now assess whether to extradite the Australian national to the US, where he faces up to five years in prison. The UK has reportedly given assurances in writing to the Ecuadorian Government that Mr. Assange will not be extradited to a country where he could face torture, or the death penalty.
After appearing in a central London courtroom on Thursday, Mr. Assange was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court in 2012, and now faces up to 12 months in prison.
The UN independent expert on the right to privacy, Joe Cannataci, issued a statement following the arrest, saying that “this will not stop my efforts to assess Mr. Assange's claims that his privacy has been violated. All it means is that, instead of visiting Mr Assange and speaking to him at the Embassy…I intend to visit him and speak to him wherever he may be detained.”
In a statement last Friday, Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said he was alarmed by reports that an arrest was imminent, and that if extradited, Mr. Assange could be exposed to “a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial, and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
UK urged to 'abide by international obligations'
Last December, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, urged the UK to “abide by its international obligations” and allow Mr. Assange safe passage out of the embassy.
“States that are based upon, and promote the rule of law, do not like to be confronted with their own violations of the law, that is understandable. But when they honestly admit these violations, they do honour the very spirit of the rule of law, earn enhanced respect for doing so, and set worldwide commendable examples,” said a statement released by the Working Group.
In December 2015, the Working Group concluded in its opinion No. 54/2015 that Mr. Assange – who at the time had a European arrest warrant issued against him for an allegation of crimes committed in Sweden ‑ was being arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released.
“Under international law, pre-trial detention must be only imposed in limited instances. Detention during investigations must be even more limited, especially in the absence of any charge” said the experts. “The Swedish investigations have been closed for over 18 months now, and the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than 6 years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador.”
“Mr. Assange should be able to exercise his right to freedom of movement in an unhindered manner, in accordance with the human rights conventions the UK has ratified,” the experts added.
#UnitedNations; #AntónioGuterres; #Tutsi; #Hutu; #xenophobia; #LibéréeKayumba; #WorldFoodProgram; #WFP: #InternationalDayofReflection; #genocide
United Nations, Apr 7 (Canadian-Media): In a message to commemorate the 25-year anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed, UN chief António Guterres has warned of dangerous trends of rising xenophobia, racism and intolerance in many parts of the world.
April 7 marks the start of the 1994 genocide, which saw over 800,000 Tutsis, moderate Hutu and others who opposed the genocide, systematically killed in less than three months. Mr. Guterres said that the anniversary is an opportunity to honour those who were murdered, and reflect on the suffering and resilience of those who survived.
One of those survivors is Libérée Kayumba. Today, she works for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Rwanda, helping refugees from other countries to meet their basic needs and survive the challenging conditions they face in the camps. But 25 years ago she was in their shoes, one of the many Rwandans forced to flee the genocide, after seeing her parents and brothers killed before her eyes.
WFP/Jonathan Eng: 25 years after the Rwanda genocide, survivor Liberée Kayumba, a Monitoring Officer with WFP, is now helping refugees coming to the country.
Her understanding of what refugees go through has, she says, given her a deeper understanding of their plight, and the memories of the genocide have motivated her to work for the WFP and do what she can to help people in need. Nevertheless, she says that coming back from that has not been easy, either for her or her sisters.
Libérée is an example of the reconciliation that, in his message, Mr. Guterres says all societies are capable of, and urged peoples and countries to work together to build a harmonious future for all.
The UN Secretary-General called on all political, religious and civil society leaders to reject hate speech and discrimination, which he described as an affront to our values, and threats to human rights, social stability and peace, and to “work vigorously to address and mitigate the root causes that undermine social cohesion, and create conditions for hatred and intolerance.”
The United Nations is commemorating the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda with events around the world, including a memorial ceremony at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, and an event at the General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York, organized in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations, which can be watched live on UN Web TV.
Haiti stands ‘at the crossroads’ between peacekeeping, development – Bachelet urges strengthened ‘human rights protection’
#UN; #Haiti; #MichelleBachelet; #TheHighCommissioner; #UN-supportedNationalPolice; #ChristophHeusgen; #MINUJUSTH; #LouneViaud, #ZanmiLasante
United Nations, Apr 3 (Canadian-Media): With the end of the UN’s peacekeeping presence in Haiti in sight, the UN’s human rights chief told the Security Council on Wednesday that the country now stands “at the crossroads between peacekeeping and development”, urging all concerned parties to continue building on progress made, or “risk losing it” altogether.
While encouraged by civil society’s engagement in promoting and protecting human rights, along with the victims of human rights violations, Michelle Bachelet acknowledged that “it has not been able to fully assume a monitoring and advocacy role.”
She noted that some civil society organizations continue to be targeted by acts of intimidation saying that it “must stop”, urging everyone with a stake in the Caribbean nation’s future, “to work together to strengthen the human rights protection system”.
Calling Haiti’s return to constitutional order, following presidential, legislative and local elections in 2017, “a significant achievement”, Ms. Bachelet added that standing “at the crossroads” between peacekeeping and development, “we must recognize the progress accomplished”, and “also continue building on it, or risk losing it”.
The High Commissioner encouraged the Council to provide Haitians with “the necessary support to strengthen institutions, fight against impunity and promote and protect human rights as a foundation to stability and development”.
She said that February’s protests - “the longest and most violent” in years, had “almost entirely paralysed the country”, despite significant improvements in the professionalism of the UN-supported National Police, incidents of serious human rights violations, including cases of summary executions, continue to be reported, with limited accountability.
“Perpetrators are consequently emboldened and silenced victims may develop grievances,” she added. The weakness of the judicial system also has a negative impact on the prisons system she noted, with over 75 per cent of inmates estimated to be in a pre-trial detention — on average for 1,100 days — well over the limit set by national law.”
She also informed the Chamber that after the current Mission for Justice Support, MINUJUSTH concludes, her office intends to pursue its work in the country, and eventually, with the support of the Council and Member States, “a stand-alone presence”.
“We want to remain engaged and to support Haiti’s commitment to achieving democratic and economic development so that the rights of all people in Haiti are upheld”, stressed the High Commissioner.
UN-Haiti partnership ‘must evolve’ says Peacekeeping chief
As the second leg of the March-April “joint presidencies” of France and Germany continues, Security Council President and Germany’s Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, invited the UN peacekeeping chief to take the floor.
Jean Pierre Lacroix, pointed out that no violent demonstrations have occurred since “the ten days of unrest” from 7 to 15 February, when 41 people were killed, another 100 injured, and human rights largely abused.
The Security Council considers the situation in Haiti. On the left, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, on the right, Loune Viaud/UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Noting that repeated calls by opposition groups demanding that President Jovenel Moïse resign has “gained little traction”, he observed nevertheless that “rival gang clashes, potentially mirroring conflicting interests linked to criminality”, continued to disrupt life in southern neighborhoods of the capital Port-au-Prince and produce isolated incidents in the North and Artibonite regions.
The peacekeeping chief “strongly” condemned an armed attack just last week against the Chilean Ambassador’s convoy, while he visited the Croix de Bouquets NGO project just outside the capital, that left one dead and three injured but assured the Council that the National Police “continued to demonstrate its capacity to handle security threats in the country”.
“The strategic five-year development plan for the Haitian National Police for 2017-2021 is on track” he said, adding that his department supported “the desire of Haitian leaders to put an end to peacekeeping in Haiti and have the MINUJUSTH mandate end in October of this year”.
“Partnership between the UN and Haiti must evolve” and “remain strong and rooted in our ongoing commitment towards achieving democratic progress”, he concluded.
Women and girls challenge development
Loune Viaud, Executive Director of NGO Zanmi Lasante, Partners in Health's sister organization in Haiti and a recipient of a "Women of the Year" award from Ms. Magazine, also briefed the Council.
She spoke of gender-based violence and the lack of access to women’s health care as “one of the country’s greatest challenges to development”, encouraging the Council to view it as part of “reinforcing the relationship between sustainable development and peace and security”.
Moreover, Ms. Viaud urged the Council during the UN’s Mission reconfiguration, to support “the urgent humanitarian needs of women and girls”; and call for Haiti to create “greater legal protection” for them, including “a comprehensive law on gender-based violence”.
#UnitedNations; #WASH; #Watersanitationhygiene; #WorldHealthOrganization; #TheUnitedNationsChildren'sFund, #UNICEF; #DrBruceGordon; LDCs; #TomSlaymaker; #LeastDevelopedCountries; #SustainableDevelopmentGoaltargets
United Nations, Apr 3 (Canadian-Media): More than two billion people face grave health risks because basic water facilities are not available in one in four medical centres globally, the UN has said, in an appeal to countries to do more to prevent the transmission of treatable infections that can turn deadly if not washed or flushed, away.
In the first assessment of its kind, the WASH (Water sanitation hygiene) in Health Care Facilities report, from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, originally known as the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, also finds that one in five health care facilities has no toilet or latrine – a problem that affects at least 1.5 billion people, and likely reflects a lack of facilities in the wider community.
People in the world’s poorest countries are the most vulnerable, since basic water services are available in just over half of all facilities in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), according to the WHO and UNICEF study.
This LDC deficit is significant particularly for mothers and newborns, because it is estimated that one in five births globally takes place in the world’s 47 poorest nations, meaning that every year, 17 million women in these countries give birth in health centres with inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene supplies.
The report also reveals dangerous inequalities within countries too, with communities in rural areas “most likely to miss out” on decent health care facilities in comparison with people living in towns, said UNICEF’s Tom Slaymaker, Senior Statistics and Monitoring Specialist for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene.
“People are relying on health care facilities without any kind of improved toilet,” he said. “Sick people shed a lot more pathogens in their faeces and without toilets, staff, patients – this includes mothers and babies - are at a much greater risk of disease caused and spread by human waste.”
While one in 10 hospitals globally lacks a toilet, the figure rises to one in five for smaller health facilities globally, Slaymaker said.
A newborn baby is getting a bath by it's grandmother at the UNICEF supported maternity ward in the POC in Malakal, South Sudan/UNICEF
Government facilities also offer a lower level of care than private clinics and hospitals, he added, before highlighting the report’s finding that there is a widespread failure to meet the different sanitary needs of men and women – both patients and medical professionals.
The needs of people with limited mobility are also ignored, which is a major problem, since they are usually far more numerous in health care settings than in the wider community, Mr Slaymaker insisted, before highlighting the lack of safe segregation and disposal of health care waste.
In an appeal for more countries to invest in water and sanitation (WASH) services, Dr. Gordon said that political commitment was was key.
“We know WASH generally needs strong public financing through taxes, yes, there is a lot of movement to get private funds …but if we are actually to reach the vulnerable, who have very little resources, public expenditure and taxation needs to be a big part of the equation.”
The destructive impact of Tropical Cyclone Idai in southern Africa three weeks ago has exacerbated the lack of basic infrastructure in many countries in the region, Mr. Slaymaker explained, adding that UNICEF is “heavily involved” in the response in Mozambique.
“Obviously in that sort of situation the demand for health care services is even greater, but the ability to provide them is heavily compromised,” Slaymaker explained, noting that one of the report’s objectives was to recommend “how to build them back later on, so they’re more able to keep health services running in the future in the context of disasters like we’ve just seen.”
In addition to providing an overview of global water and sanitation in health care settings, future reports produced every two years will monitor progress in line with Sustainable Development Goal targets.
“Hopefully by 2030, we’re going to see all health care facilities with good basic facilities and 80 per cent with a bit higher level of service,” Dr. Gordon said, “so that when you come to a hospital you can be cared for well and have a good patient experience and staff members working there are also in a place that’s comfortable and supportive.”