Tag Archives: Union of countries

Germany’s confidence in Syria’s secret police officers takes priority | Instant News

Human rights lawyers and legal activists hope that the testimony and evidence presented to the court at Al-Khatib’s trial can be used in other legal proceedings against Syrian government officials in future cases.

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In a historic ruling last month, Germany’s regional court in Koblenz convicted one of two former Syrian secret police officers in war crimes trials outside Syria and outside the International Criminal Court.

Eyad al-Gharib arrested and transported protesters to Al-Khatib’s detention and interrogation center in 2011 – the start of the Syrian uprising – even though he was aware they would be tortured. He has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison for aiding and supporting crimes against humanity.

The sentence was based on Eyad’s confession but according to human rights lawyers, it proved that illegal detention, torture and enforced disappearances were carried out systematically under Assad’s rule.

Stacks of evidence are presented to the court during the trial, named after the one detention center where the torture was carried out, to establish a chain of command. The evidence includes: Tens of thousands of photographs of corpses – with evidence of traces of torture – were smuggled in by military police photographers codenamed Caesar, as well as some testimony.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), which supports Syrian torture survivors who were co-plaintiffs at the trial, welcomed the ruling. “This is the first time a former member of the Syrian intelligence service has been convicted of a crime under international law,” said the ECCHR in a statement. “The trial of the main defendant, Anwar R, will continue until at least October 2021.”

Anwar Raslan, Eyad’s senior, is on trial for overseeing the torture of 4,000 people in Al-Khatib. Raslan was in charge of a well-known detention center in Damascus at the height of the protests in Syria.

Since Russia and China vetoed all attempts to try cases against the upper echelons of the Syrian regime at the International Criminal Court, Germany has decided to step in. Germany applies the principle of universal jurisdiction under which it can prosecute foreigners for war crimes. It was praised for taking the initiative and sending a message to dictators and authoritarian regimes that they cannot commit such crimes with impunity.

“The testimonies of torture survivors and intelligence officers, as well as photographs of Caesar, attest to the scale and systemic nature of the disappearances, torture and sexual violence in Syria,” said Patrick Kroker who represented the joint plaintiffs in the Anwar Raslan case. The relevance of this evidence goes far beyond the process at Koblenz.

Human rights lawyers and legal activists hope that the testimony and evidence presented to the court at Al-Khatib’s trial can be used in other legal proceedings against Syrian government officials in future cases. They also hope the ruling will provide closure for at least some victims of crimes in Syria and encourage other European prosecutors to initiate a similar process.

On March 1, the United Nations also released a report that tens of thousands of civilians were arbitrarily detained and disappeared during the decade-long conflict. He acknowledged that the international system has failed to provide justice and stressed the importance of the principle of universal jurisdiction in such cases.

While the UN report accuses other warring parties of serious crimes as well, the focus of the 30-page document – based on more than 2,500 interviews with victims and witnesses carried out over the past decade – is on excesses committed by the Syrian government.

“Pro-government forces, but also other warring parties, use methods of warfare and use weapons that minimize risks to their fighters, not that minimize harm to civilians,” said the report. “They consistently focus on acquiring and controlling territory, at the expense of civilian rights. Syria has experienced massive aerial bombardment in densely populated areas; they have endured chemical weapons attacks and modern sieges in which the perpetrators deliberately starved the population throughout the medieval script, and unsustainable and humiliating restrictions on humanitarian aid – both across line and across borders, the latter even with Security Council approval. “

The United Nations is calling for the release of about 100,000 prisoners in Syrian prisons and says that until they are released, a political solution to the Syrian crisis is not possible.

The Syrian government denies all accusations. However, experts say that releasing a prisoner is tantamount to suicide for the government because it would prove the government’s alleged crimes.

Some celebrated Koblenz’s ruling but many others remained pessimistic and said some such beliefs would not change the government’s behavior much.


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Italy and UNIDO remain committed to working together to accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development | Instant News


Last week, the Italian Ambassador, Alessandro Cortese, and the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), LI Yong, signed funding arrangements for three projects financed by the Italian Government.

At the signing, Ambassador Cortese, Italy’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna, said, “The unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the world off course planned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. . Italy remains committed to working with UNIDO with the aim of rebuilding and ensuring a more just, inclusive, sustainable, resilient and greener future, including through the G20 Presidency and the co-Presidency COP26. “

UNIDO’s Li noted that the three projects are proof that international cooperation is essential to overcome the global crisis and to accelerate progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda, adding, “With the continued assistance of the Government of Italy, one of UNIDO’s main donors, UNIDO has been able to fulfill its mandate and encourage inclusive and sustainable industrial development, especially at this time with development progress hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. “

The project, “Operationalization and sustainability of integrated agro-industrial parks (IAIPs) in Ethiopia”, will contribute to the development of the country’s agro-industrial sector and to the creation of decent jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas. The development of four IAIPs is the main objective UNIDO Program for Country Partnerships for Ethiopia.

The continent-wide program, “Opportunities for Employment for Youth in Africa” ​​was jointly developed by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UNIDO, will accelerate efforts in the field of job creation for African youth, particularly through the development of agribusiness and entrepreneurship.

The third project, “Industrial policies for a circular economy”, will provide specific training programs for policymakers from Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia to promote circular economy practices. This will be carried out in collaboration with the University of Ferrara and the University of Roma Tre.

/ UNIDO Public Release. This material comes from the original organization and may be point-in-time, edited for clarity, style and length. view more here.


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The global money laundering watchdog has put Pakistan on a terrorism financing ‘gray list’ | Instant News

FILE PHOTO: The FATF (Financial Action Task Force) logo is seen during a press conference following the plenary session at the OECD Headquarters in Paris, France, 18 October 2019. REUTERS / Charles Platiau

KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) – The global money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), on Thursday said it would keep Pakistan on a “gray list” of terrorism financing.

The FATF put Pakistan on a “gray list” of countries with inadequate control over terrorism financing in 2018, which makes foreign companies more cautious about investing in Pakistan.

In an online press conference from Paris, FATF President Marcus Pleyer said Islamabad had made “significant progress” but there were still “serious shortcomings” in mechanisms to stop money laundering and terrorism financing.

Pleyer said three of the 27 action points needed improvement.

Following the announcement, Pakistan said it was committed to complying with the FATF evaluation process.

“It was also noted by FATF member states that Pakistan may be subject to the most challenging and comprehensive plan of action ever presented to any country,” Pakistan’s federal minister Hammad Azhar wrote on Twitter.

Azhar, who is leading Pakistan’s efforts to implement the FATF roadmap, said the country was “subject to a multiple FATF evaluation process with different timelines”.

Last year, Azhar said that the FATF recognized that any blacklist, meaning further downgrading of the country, could not be done now.

However, answering questions, Pleyer said on Thursday that the risk of Pakistan being blacklisted had not disappeared, and that the country should continue to work on extraordinary points of action to improve its financial monitoring mechanisms.

Reporting by Gibran Peshimam in Karachi; Additional reporting by Umar Farooq in Islamabad; Edited by Alexandra Hudson


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Italy repatriates its ambassador and bodyguards who died in Congo | Instant News

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Reuters) – A military plane leaving eastern Congo bound for Italy on Tuesday loaded the bodies of the Italian ambassador and bodyguards in coffins wrapped in the Italian flag, a day after they were shot dead in an ambush at the United Nations Convoy.

Ambassador Luca Attanasio, 43, and his bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci, 30, died while traveling in a World Food Program convoy to visit a school feeding project. WFP driver Mustapha Milambo also died.

The two crates were loaded onto an Italian military cargo plane in the city of Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, near the Rwandan border. The plane then took off for Rome.

According to the Congolese presidency, a two-car convoy was stopped on the road north of Goma by six gunmen, who killed the Milambo driver and took the other six passengers away. Soldiers and park rangers tracked the group and a gun battle ensued, during which the kidnappers shot the two Italians.


Congo’s interior ministry blamed Rwandan Hutu rebel militias called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) for the attacks. The FDLR, one of about 120 armed groups operating in eastern Congo, has denied responsibility for what it called the “cowardly killings”.

“The FDLR stated that they were not at all involved in the attack,” the group said in a statement.

The local governor said that the attackers spoke the Rwandan language Kinyarwanda.

The FDLR, set up by former Rwandan officers and militia blamed by the United Nations and others for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, has been blamed for previous kidnappings, including two British tourists who were detained for several days in May 2018.

President Felix Tshisekedi sent his top diplomatic adviser to Goma to support an investigation by local authorities, and the Congolese envoy in Rome will hand over a letter from Tshisekedi to Italian President Sergio Mattarella, the Congolese presidency said.

Dario Tedesco, an Italian volcanologist living in Goma, pays tribute to his friend Attanasio.

“He was able to talk to all of us, very differently because, he adapted to each of us, (made) us feel we were important,” said Tedesco. “He believes in what he is doing and this shouldn’t be his last trip.” (This story corrects the number of passengers to six, in paragraph 4)

Reporting by Fiston Mahamba and Hereward Holland; written by Hereward Holland; editing by Nellie Peyton, Philippa Fletcher, Giles Elgood and Peter Graff


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UN slams countries using ‘pandemic as an excuse to crush dissent’ | Instant News

The United Nations on Monday harshly criticized countries that used the pandemic to justify cracking down on dissent and suppressing criticism. Speaking at the opening of the UN Human Rights Council’s main annual session, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres alleged that the authorities in a number of countries used restrictions meant to stop the spread of Covid-19 to weaken their political opposition.

“Using the pandemic as an excuse, authorities in several countries have deployed security responses and emergency measures to crush dissent, criminalize basic freedoms, silence independent reporting and restrict the activities of non-governmental organizations,” he said, without naming countries.

Speaking in a pre-recorded video message to a virtual meeting of the Geneva-based body, the UN chief lamented that “pandemic-related restrictions were used to subvert the electoral process, weaken opposition voices and suppress criticism” in several countries.

At the same time, he said, “Human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, political activists and even medical professionals are detained, prosecuted and subjected to intimidation and surveillance for criticizing the government’s pandemic response – or lack thereof.”

‘Unauthorized restrictions’

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet also slammed countries using Covid-19 as an excuse to impose “unlawful restrictions on public freedoms … and the unnecessary or excessive use of force.” “I think we all realize that the use of force will not end this pandemic. Sending criticism to prison will not end this pandemic,” he said in a video message to the council.

Covid-19 has killed nearly 2.5 million people worldwide since the virus first emerged in China in late 2019, and Bachelet warned that “the medical impact of the pandemic is far from over.” “And the impact on the economy, freedom, society and people is just beginning,” he added.

Guterres also criticized how the pandemic has “deepened pre-existing divisions, vulnerability and inequality, and opened new gaps, including fault lines in human rights.” “This disease has taken a disproportionate number of victims to women, minorities, people with disabilities, the elderly, refugees, migrants and indigenous peoples.”

As a result, he warned, “progress on gender equality has set years back (and) extreme poverty has increased for the first time in decades.” In addition to inequalities within countries, the UN chief condemned inequality between countries when it comes to accessing the Covid-19 vaccine which is marketed as “moral outrage”.

As much as 75 percent of all vaccine doses have been given in just 10 countries, he pointed out, while more than 130 countries have not received a single dose. “Vaccine equity is ultimately about human rights,” he said. “Vaccine nationalism denies it.”

‘Deadly misinformation’

Guterres also voiced concern on Monday over misinformation widespread throughout the world about the coronavirus and pandemic. In a number of cases, Guterres said, “access to life-saving Covid-19 information has been withheld, while misinformation has been reinforced, including by those in power.” Beyond the pandemic, Guterres highlighted the need for more action globally against systemic racism and ideas of white supremacy.

“The decay of racism is eating away at institutions, social structures and everyday life, sometimes invisibly and quietly,” he said. He welcomed “a new revival in the global struggle for racial justice.” “We must also step up the fight against the revival of neo-Nazism, white supremacy, and racially and ethnically motivated terrorism,” said Guterres.

“The danger of these hate-driven movements is increasing day by day,” he said, warning that they were “more than just a domestic terror threat.” “They pose a transnational threat.”


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