#USDeptOfState; #VisaIssues; #ChineseOfficials; #HumanRights
US/Canadian-Media: China’s authoritarian rulers impose draconian restrictions on the Chinese people’s freedoms of expression, religion or belief, association, and the right to peaceful assembly. The United States (US) has been clear that perpetrators of human rights abuses like these are not welcome in our country, US Department of State reports said.
Michael R. Pompeo. Image credit: Official
In a statement issued by Michael R. Pompeo, US Secretary of State, Pompeo said,
"Today, I am announcing the imposition of additional restrictions under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act on the issuance of visas for Chinese officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, policies or actions aimed at repressing religious and spiritual practitioners, members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, labor organizers, civil society organizers, and peaceful protestors. Family members of such persons may also be subject to these additional restrictions.
This action demonstrates the U.S. government’s resolve to hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable for its increasing repression against the Chinese people. This year, the United States has imposed visa restrictions and financial sanctions on CCP officials involved in the horrific abuses taking place in Xinjiang, restrictions on access to Tibet, and the destruction of Hong Kong’s promised autonomy. Today’s action creates additional restrictions applicable to all CCP officials engaged in such repressive activities, no matter their location.
The United States stands with the many individuals persecuted for their peaceful efforts to exercise their rights – lawyers such as Xu Zhiyong, house church pastors such as Wang Yi, civil society activists such as Huang Qi, Uyghur academics such as Ilham Tohti, democracy advocates like Jimmy Lai, and Tibetan linguists and businesspeople such as Tashi Wangchuk. We call for their immediate release and urge CCP authorities to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms to which the people of China are entitled under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
#Nigeria; #KidnappingOfSchoolChildren; #ChildrenReleased; #BokoHaram; #Peace&Security
Nigeria (Africa)/Canadian-Media: The UN chief on Friday welcomed the release of more than 300 schoolboys forcibly taken from their school in northwest Nigeria a week ago, although others reportedly remain missing.
A 14 year-old former child soldier draws at a school in Ndenga village, Kaga Bandoro, Central African Republic. (file) Image credit: ©UNICEF/Vlad Sokhin
After the release of the boys kidnapped by armed men from Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, on 11 December, Secretary-General António Guterres called for the “immediate and unconditional release of those who remain abducted”.
In a statement issued by his Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, Mr. Guterres commended “the swift action taken by the Nigerian authorities to rescue the children” while also stressing the importance that those children and their families are now “provided with the necessary health and psychosocial support”.
According to news reports, the boys arrived by bus in the capital of Katsina, and were met by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. State authorities are saying that the children were abducted by local bandits, casting doubt on the initial claim of responsibility by militant Jihadist group, Boko Haram.
The UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, tweeted that he was “delighted” that the schoolboys had been freed, and congratulated the Nigerian Government for securing their release, calling on authorities to “make schools safe for teaching and learning”.
‘An unimaginable ordeal’
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria, pointed out that for one week, “parents were awake at night, crying and awaiting the return of their sons”.
“My thoughts and solidarity are with these children, their families and the Kankara community – who have endured an unimaginable ordeal this past week”, said UNCEF Nigeria Representative Peter Hawkins.
While expressing his relief that some of the children were reported to have been freed, he also called on the attackers “to release all children immediately”, including any others being held captive throughout the country.
Protecting schools Last Friday’s attack during the middle of the night, in a place where children should feel secure, was “an outrage”, the UNICEF envoy said.
“Schools should be safe”, he upheld. “Children should never be the target of attack – and yet, far too often in Nigeria, they are precisely that – victims of attacks on their schools”.
Attacks on educational facilities deprive young people of the right to an education, make them fearful of going to the classroom and cause parents to become frightened of sending their children to school, the UNICEF official explained.
These attacks are a grave violation of children’s rights, according to Mr. Hawkins, who referred to this incident as “a disturbing reminder” of the heavy toll that violence takes on civilians in northwest Nigeria, including children.
No cause justifies attacks against children and schools -- UNICEF Representative
Learning without fear The UNICEF representative spelled out: “No cause justifies attacks against children and schools”.
He said that “such cruel disregard for humanity must come to an end”, underscoring that schools be “safe places to study and develop, and learning cannot become a perilous endeavor”.
Mr. Hawkins pushed for interventions to ensure school safety so that “all Nigerian children can learn without fear”.
The Secretary-General called for “increased efforts to safeguard schools and educational facilities in the country” and reiterated the UN’s solidarity and commitment in “supporting the Government and people of Nigeria in their fight against terrorism, violent extremism and organized crime”.
#UN; #HumanRights; #COVID19Response; #Recovery; #HumanRights; #GenderEquality
UN/Canadian-Media: UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for human rights to be put “front and centre” of COVID-19 response and recovery globally in order to achieve a better future for people everywhere.
Mauritanian students return to school after several months of school closures due to COVID-19. Image credit: © UNICEF/Raphael Pouget
The UN chief made the appeal in his message for Human Rights Day, observed on Thursday.
“People and their rights must be front and centre of response and recovery. We need universal, rights-based frameworks like health coverage for all, to beat this pandemic and protect us for the future”, he said.
Violations hurt us all The pandemic has reinforced two fundamental truths about human rights, said the Secretary-General, starting with the observation that violations harm us all.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups including frontline workers, people with disabilities, older people, women and girls, and minorities. It has thrived because poverty, inequality, discrimination, the destruction of our natural environment and other human rights failures, have created enormous fragilities in our societies”, he said.
“At the same time, the pandemic is undermining human rights, by providing a pretext for heavy-handed security responses and repressive measures that curtail civic space and media freedom.”
Divisiveness doesn’t work The second truth is that human rights are universal and protect everyone, underscoring how effective pandemic response must be based on solidarity and cooperation.
“Divisive approaches, authoritarianism and nationalism make no sense against a global threat”, he stressed.
Just prior to the pandemic, the Secretary-General issued his Call to Action for Human Rights. Described as a seven-point blueprint for positive change, it spells out the central role of human rights in areas such as crisis response, gender equality, public participation and sustainable development.
“On Human Rights Day and every day, let’s resolve to act collectively, with human rights front and centre, to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and build a better future for all”, he said.
Rights Declaration ‘essential’ amid global chaos Human Rights Day commemorates the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948.
More than seven decades on, the milestone document provides an essential framework for the world to “recover better” from the pandemic, the UN’s more than 130 independent rights experts said in a statement, echoing the Secretary-General’s message.
They underlined “the centrality of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the international human rights protection system” at a time when the world faces not only the pandemic, but also climate change, racism and discrimination.
Stating that 2020 will be remembered for its “unique existential challenges”, the experts said commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the closing days of the year serves as “an important and powerful message: the global threats to humanity demand global responses that rest on multilateralism, cooperation, and solidarity.”
The experts who issued the statement were appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor specific country situations or human rights issues in all regions of the world.
They are independent of the UN, and serve in their individual capacity, and do not receive a salary for their work.