UN Concerned over British Government’s Failure to Investigate Whether Assange Has Been Subjected to Psychological Torture

By Ceren Sagir

Global Research,

United Nations special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer has written to governments to press them to investigate properly evidence that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been subjected to psychological torture.

On December 31 Mr Melzer shared on Twitter a letter that he had sent to the British government shaming its failure to address concerns that Mr Assange had been tortured.

Nils Melzer@NilsMelzer

(1/6) Just out: My letter to the #UK Govt of 29 Oct 2019, detailing serious due process violations, expressing alarm at #Assange’s detention conditions & health, reiterating my queries & calling for his prompt release. Direct link: http://bit.ly/2ZCygWA  (60 days & no response)

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77012:54 AM – Dec 31, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy755 people are talking about this

The letter, dated October 29, did not receive a response. He has also written to the United States, Swedish and Ecuadorian governments.

The US is seeking Mr Assange’s extradition to face spying charges. The whistleblower has been detained since his arrest in April at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. He had been confined there since 2012 after being granted asylum by the South American country.Julian Assange’s Life May be at Risk. UN Expert on Torture Sounds Alarm

At the time Mr Assange was a wanted man in Sweden, having failed to respond to demands for him to return there to face questioning over sexual assault charges. He claimed that Sweden would simply ship him out to a vengeful US, angered by his whistleblowing activities. The assault charges were eventually dropped.

In his tweet Mr Melzer accused the British government of “seriously undermining the credibility of the UK’s commitment to the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, as well as to the rule of law more generally.”

He said that “recurring and serious” due-process violations in Britain have rendered Mr Assange’s case “inherently arbitrary, to the point of making any legal remedies a pointless formality devoid of prospect.”

Mr Melzer called on the government to retract its extradition authorisation and release him from prison “without further delay.”

Anti-war campaigner John Rees told the Star yesterday:

“Obviously it is a very important intervention from a very high-authority source, but it is not news to anyone who has visited Assange in Belmarsh high-security prison, as I have.

“The conditions he is being kept in are unacceptable and there is absolutely no doubt that the prison regime is directly causing deterioration of his health.”

Mr Rees said it was Home Secretary Priti Patel’s responsibility to intervene.

“The judge has already expressed concern that [Mr Assange’s] legal team are not getting access to their client,” he said. “Both these things are of the most serious nature, it jeopardises any fair hearings coming up in February.”

Former Derby North MP Chris Williamson tweeted:

“The UK government’s treatment of Julian Assange continues to shame Britain.”

Mr Melzer’s call comes as journalist Vaughan Smith told RT that an “obviously sedated” Mr Assange said he was “slowly dying here” during a Christmas Eve phone call between the two friends.

Mr Smith said Mr Assange sounded like a shell of the man he once.

“His speech was slurred. He was speaking slowly,” Mr Smith said. “Now, Julian is highly articulate, a very clear person when he speaks. And he sounded awful. It was very upsetting to hear him.”

Posted in Human Rights, UK, UN0 Comments

Chemical Weapons Watchdog Is Just an American Lap Dog

By Scott Ritter

A spate of leaks from within the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international inspectorate created for the purpose of implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention, has raised serious questions about the institution’s integrity, objectivity and credibility. The leaks address issues pertaining to the OPCW investigation into allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons to attack civilians in the Damascus suburb of Douma on April 7, 2018. These allegations, which originated from such anti-Assad organizations as the Syrian Civil Defense (the so-called White Helmets) and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), were immediately embraced as credible by the OPCW, and were used by the United States, France and the United Kingdom to justify punitive military strikes against facilities inside Syria assessed by these nations as having been involved in chemical weapons-related activities before the OPCW initiated any on-site investigation.

The Douma incident was initially described by the White Helmets, SAMS and the U.S., U.K. and French governments as involving both sarin nerve agent and chlorine gas. However, this narrative was altered when OPCW inspectors released, on July 6, 2018, interim findings of their investigation that found no evidence of the use of sarin. The focus of the investigation quickly shifted to a pair of chlorine cylinders claimed by the White Helmets to have been dropped onto apartment buildings in Douma by the Syrian Air Force, resulting in the release of a cloud of chlorine gas that killed dozens of Syrian civilians. In March, the OPCW released its final report on the Douma incident, noting that it had “reasonable grounds” to believe “that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on 7 April 2018,” that “this toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine” and that “the toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

Much has been written about the OPCW inspection process in Syria, and particularly the methodology used by the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), an inspection body created by the OPCW in 2014 “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic.” The FFM was created under the direction of Ahmet Üzümcü, a career Turkish diplomat with extensive experience in multinational organizations, including service as Turkey’s ambassador to NATO. Üzümcü was the OPCW’s third director general, having been selected from a field of seven candidates by its executive council to replace Argentine diplomat Rogelio Pfirter. Pfirter had held the position since being nominated to replace the OPCW’s first director general, José Maurício Bustani. Bustani’s tenure was marred by controversy that saw the OPCW transition away from its intended role as an independent implementor of the Chemical Weapons Convention to that of a tool of unilateral U.S. policy, a role that continues to mar the OPCW’s work in Syria today, especially when it comes to its investigation of the alleged use by the Syrian government of chemical weapons against civilians in Douma in April 2018.

Bustani was removed from his position in 2002, following an unprecedented campaign led by John Bolton, who at the time was serving as the undersecretary of state for Arms Control and International Security Affairs in the U.S. State Department. What was Bustani’s crime? In 2001, he had dared to enter negotiations with the government of Iraq to secure that nation’s entry into the OPCW, thereby setting the stage for OPCW inspectors to visit Iraq and bring its chemical weapons capability under OPCW control. As director general, there was nothing untoward about Bustani’s action. But Iraq circa 2001 was not a typical recruitment target. In the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991, the U.N. Security Council had passed a resolution under Chapter VII requiring Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including its chemical weapons capability, to be “removed, destroyed or rendered harmless” under the supervision of inspectors working on behalf of the United Nations Special Commission, or UNSCOM.

The pursuit of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction led to a series of confrontations with Iraq that culminated in inspectors being ordered out of the country by the U.S. in 1998, prior to a 72-hour aerial attack—Operation Desert Fox. Iraq refused to allow UNSCOM inspectors to return, rightfully claiming that the U.S. had infiltrated the ranks of the inspectors and was using the inspection process to spy on Iraqi leadership for the purposes of facilitating regime change. The lack of inspectors in Iraq allowed the U.S. and others to engage in wild speculation regarding Iraqi rearmament activities, including in the field of chemical weapons. This speculation was used to fuel a call for military action against Iraq, citing the threat of a reconstituted WMD capability as the justification. Bustani sought to defuse this situation by bringing Iraq into the OPCW, an act that, if completed, would have derailed the U.S. case for military intervention in Iraq. Bolton’s intervention included threats to Bustani and his family, as well as threats to withhold U.S. dues to the OPCW accounting for some 22% of that organization’s budget; had the latter threat been implemented, it would have resulted in OPCW’s disbandment.

Bustani’s departure marked the end of the OPCW as an independent organization. Pfirter, Bolton’s hand-picked replacement, vowed to keep the OPCW out of Iraq. In an interview with U.S. media shortly after his appointment, Pfirter noted that while all nations should be encouraged to join the OPCW, “We should be very aware that there are United Nations resolutions in effect” that precluded Iraqi membership “at the expense” of its obligations to the Security Council. Under the threat of military action, Iraq allowed UNMOVIC inspectors to return in 2002; by February 2003, no WMD had been found, a result that did not meet with U.S. satisfaction. In March 2003, UNMOVIC inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq under orders of the U.S., paving the way for the subsequent invasion and occupation of that nation that same month (the CIA later concluded that Iraq had been disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction by the summer of 1991).U.S. Again Cries ‘Chemical Warfare’ in Syria

Under Pfirter’s leadership, the OPCW became a compliant tool of U.S. foreign policy objectives. By completely subordinating OPCW operations through the constant threat of fiscal ruin, the U.S. engaged in a continuous quid pro quo arrangement, trading the financial solvency of an ostensible multilateral organization for complicity in operating as a de facto extension of American unilateral policy. Bolton’s actions in 2002 put the OPCW and its employees on notice: Cross the U.S., and you will pay a terminal price.

When Üzümcü took over the OPCW’s reins in 2010, the organization was very much the model of multinational consensus, which, in the case of any multilateral organization in which the U.S. plays a critical role, meant that nothing transpired without the express approval of the U.S. and its European NATO allies, in particular the United Kingdom and France. Shortly after he took office, Üzümcü was joined by Robert Fairweather, a career British diplomat who served as Üzümcü’s chief of Cabinet. (While Üzümcü was the ostensible head of the OPCW, the daily task of managing the functioning of the OPCW was that of the chief of Cabinet. In short, nothing transpired within the OPCW without Fairweather’s knowledge and concurrence.)

Üzümcü and Fairweather’s tenure at the OPCW was dominated by Syria, where, since 2011, the government of President Bashar Assad had been engaged in a full-scale conflict with a foreign-funded and -equipped insurgency whose purpose was regime change. By 2013, allegations emerged from both the Syrian government and rebel forces concerning the use of chemical weapons by the other side. In August 2013, the OPCW dispatched an inspection team into Syria as part of a U.N.-led effort, which included specialists from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N. itself, to investigate allegations that sarin had been used in attack on civilians in the town of Ghouta. While the mission found conclusive evidence that sarin nerve agent had been used, it did not assign blame for the attack.

Despite the lack of causality, the U.S. and its NATO allies quickly assigned blame for the sarin attacks on the Syrian government. To forestall U.S. military action against Syria, the Russian government helped broker a dealwhereby the U.S. agreed to refrain from undertaking military action if the Syrian government joined the OPCW and subjected the totality of its chemical weapons stockpile to elimination. In October 2013, the OPCW-U.N. Joint Mission, created under the authority of U.N. Security Council resolution 2118 (2103), began the process of identifying, cataloging, removing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons. This process was completed in September 2014 (in December 2013, the OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its disarmament work in Syria).

If the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons was an example of the OPCW at its best, what followed was a case study of just the opposite. In May 2014, the OPCW created the Fact-Finding Mission, or FFM, charged with establishing “facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic.” The FFM was headed by Malik Ellahi, who served as head of the OPCW’s government relations and political affairs branch. The appointment of someone lacking both technical and operational experience suggests that Ellahi’s primary role was political. Under his leadership, the FFM established a close working relationship with the anti-Assad Syrian opposition, including the White Helmets and SAMS.

In 2015, responsibility for coordinating the work of the FFM with the anti-Assad opposition was transferred to a British inspector named Len Phillips (another element of the FFM, led by a different inspector, was responsible for coordinating with the Syrian government). Phillips developed a close working relationship with the White Helmets and SAMS and played a key role in OPCW’s investigation of the April 2017 chemical incident in Khan Shaykhun. By April 2018, the FFM had undergone a leadership transition, with Phillips replaced by a Tunisian inspector named Sami Barrek. It was Barrek who led the FFM into Syria in April 2018 to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use at Douma. Like Phillips, Barrek maintained a close working relationship with the White Helmets and SAMS.

Once the FFM wrapped up its investigation in Douma, however, it became apparent to Fairweather that it had a problem. There were serious questions about whether chlorine had, in fact, been used as a weapon. The solution, brokered by Fairweather, was to release an interim report that ruled out sarin altogether, but left the door open regarding chlorine. This report was released on July 6, 2018. Later that month, both Üzümcü and Fairweather were gone, replaced by a Spaniard named Fernando Arias and a French diplomat named Sébastien Braha. It would be up to them to clean up the Douma situation.

The situation Braha inherited from Fairweather was unenviable. According to an unnamed OPCW official who spoke with the media after the fact, two days prior to the publication of the interim report, on July 4, 2018, Fairweather had been paid a visit by a trio of U.S. officials, who indicated to Fairweather and the members of the FFM responsible for writing the report that it was the U.S. position that the chlorine cannisters in question had been used to dispense chlorine gas at Douma, an assertion that could not be backed up by the evidence. Despite this, the message that Fairweather left with the OPCW personnel was that there had to be a “smoking gun.” It was now Braha’s job to manufacture one.

Braha did this by dispatching OPCW inspectors to Turkey in September 2018 to interview new witnesses identified by the White Helmets, and by commissioning new engineering studies that better explained the presence of the two chlorine cannisters found in Douma. By March, Braha had assembled enough information to enable the technical directorate to issue its final report. Almost immediately, dissent appeared in the ranks of the OPCW. An engineering report that contradicted the findings published by Braha was leaked, setting off a firestorm of controversy derived from its conclusion that the chlorine cannisters found in Douma had most likely been staged by the White Helmets.

The OPCW, while eventually acknowledging that the leaked report was genuine, explained its exclusion from the final report on the grounds that it attributed blame, something the FFM was not mandated to do. According to the OPCW, the engineering report in question had been submitted to the investigation and identification team, a newly created body within the OPCW mandated to make such determinations. Moreover, Director General Arias stood by the report’s conclusion that it had “reasonable grounds” to believe “that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on 7 April 2018.”

Arias’ explanation came under attack in November, when WikiLeaks published an email sent by a member of the FFM team that had participated in the Douma investigation. In this email, which was sent on June 22, 2018, and addressed to Robert Fairweather, the author noted that, when it came to the Douma incident, “[p]urposely singling out chlorine gas as one of the possibilities is disingenuous.” The author of the email, who had participated in drafting the original interim report, noted that the original text had emphasized that there was insufficient evidence to support this conclusion, and that the new text represented “a major deviation from the original report.” Moreover, the author took umbrage at the new report’s conclusions, which claimed to be “based on the high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives detected in environmental samples.” According to email’s author “They were, in most cases, present only in parts per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace quantities.” In short, the OPCW had cooked the books, manufacturing evidence from thin air that it then used to draw conclusions that sustained the U.S. position that chlorine gas had been used by the Syrian government at Douma.

Arias, while not addressing the specifics of the allegations set forth in the leaked email, recently declared that it is “the nature of any thorough inquiry for individuals in a team to express subjective views,” noting that “I stand by the independent, professional conclusion” presented by the OPCW about the Douma incident. This explanation, however, does not fly in the face of the evidence. The OPCW’s credibility as an investigative body has been brought into question through these leaks, as has its independent character. If an organization like the OPCW can be used at will by the U.S., the United Kingdom and France to trigger military attacks intended to support regime-change activities in member states, then it no longer serves a useful purpose to the international community it ostensibly serves. To survive as a credible entity, the OPCW must open itself to a full-scale audit of its activities in Syria by an independent authority with inspector general-like investigatory powers. Anything short of this leaves the OPCW, an organization that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its contributions to world peace, permanently stained by the reality that it is little more than a lap dog of the United States, used to promote the very conflicts it was designed to prevent.

Related Articles:

Video: Douma ‘Chemical Attack’ Narrative Collapses, Russia Trains New Militia in Hasakah

New WikiLeaks Bombshell: 20 Inspectors Dissent from Syria Chemical Attack Narrative. Leaked Documents and Emails of OPCW

US/NATO Staged “False Flag”: More Evidence of OPCW Doctored Douma Chemical Weapons Attack, Syria Documents

Syria Will Not Cooperate with the OPCW New Investigation Team

WikiLeaks Exposes Doctored OPCW Report on Alleged CW Attack in Syria

Syria: OPCW Whistleblowers Confirm What We Already Knew. The OPCW has Deliberately Suppressed Evidence

Posted in USA, Politics, UN0 Comments

Trump’s Child Separation Policy “Absolutely” Violated International Law Says UN Expert

The way the Trump administration was “separating infants from their families only in order to deter irregular migration from Central America to the United States of America, for me, constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment.”

by: Andrea Germanos,

A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas.

A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

The Trump administration violated international law when it separated migrant children from their families, a United Nations expert said Monday.

That’s not all, said Manfred Nowak, the independent expert leading a global study on children deprived of liberty. With over 100,000 children still in migration-related detention, the United States leads the world with the highest number of children in migration-related custody in the world.

Nowak made the remarks to press at the formal launch of the report, the U.N. Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, he said has the power to effect positive change.

Referencing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Nowak said that “the detention of children shall only be a measure of last resort and only if absolutely necessary for the shortest appropriate period of time. That means, in principle, children should not be deprived of liberty.”

“Alternatives to detention are usually available,” said Nowak, “it’s simply a question of politics.”

A lack of political will to make that policy change was clear, Nowak suggested, when the Trump administration instituted its so-called zero tolerance policy in which officials separated children from their parents at Southern border.

“There’s a lot of evidence…that migration-related detention for children can never be considered as a measure of last resort and in the best interest of the child,” he said. “There are always alternatives available, and there a quite a number of states that have decided already that they will not put children any longer in migration-related detention.”

“Of course, separating children—as was done by the Trump administration—from their parents, even small children, at the Mexican-U.S. border is absolutely prohibited by the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Nowak continued. “I would call it inhuman treatment for both the parents and the children. And there are still quite a number of children that are separated from their parents—and neither the children know where their parents are and the parents [don’t] know where the children are—so that is definitely something that definitely should not happen again.”

“We still have more than 100,000 children in migration-related detention” in the U.S., Nowak said, “so that’s far more than all the other countries where we have reliable figures.” Nowak added that the U.S. “did not respond to our questionnaire” requesting data for the report.

Nowak added the U.S. is detaining high numbers of children in the criminal justice sector as well.

“In general the incarceration rate in the United States is very high,” said Nowak.

The United States detains on average about 60 out of 100,000 children—a figure Nowak said was “the highest we could find followed by others like Bolivia or Botswana or Sri Lanka.”

Looking at figures by region, North America has the highest rate of incarceration of children, which includes Canada’s detention of roughly 14 to 15 out of 100,000 children. In Western Europe, by comparison, the average is just about 5 out of 100,000 children in custody.

“In general we could say that the American hemisphere has the highest rate of children deprived of liberty in the administration of justice,” the U.N. expert said. The lowest rate was found in sub-Saharan Africa.

Asked whether the United States—the only U.N. member state not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child—would face direct consequences of the rights violations, Nowak said direct action from the United Nations was unlikely because the United States is a permanent member of the Security Council 

“That’s one of the weaknesses of the United Nations,” said Nowak.

The United States is party to the Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on Torture, Nowak noted, and said that the way the Trump administration was “separating infants from their families only in order to deter irregular migration from Central America to the United States of America, for me, constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment. And that is absolutely prohibited by the two treaties.”

“I’m deeply convinced that these are violations of international law,” Nowak adding, same that the same could be said of the high number of children incarcerated through the U.S. criminal justice system.

Despite likely inaction by the U.N. to make the U.S. face consequences, Nowak said it doesn’t mean the continued deprivation of children’s liberty would continue unabated. 

Nowak expressed hope his new study, like the 1996 report on child soldiers, would have an impact “not because of sanctions but because of its power of facts.”

Posted in USA, Human Rights, UNComments Off on Trump’s Child Separation Policy “Absolutely” Violated International Law Says UN Expert

UN Finds the Nazi regime Intentionally Shot Children, Journalists and Disabled People

UN Finds Israel Intentionally Shot Children, Journalists and Disabled People

BYAmy Goodman

Democracy Now!

AUnited Nations inquiry has found Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by targeting unarmed children, journalists and the disabled in Gaza. The report, released by the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday, looked at Israel’s bloody response to weekly Great March of Return demonstrations, launched by Palestinians in Gaza nearly a year ago, targeting Israel’s heavily militarized separation barrier. The report found Israeli forces have killed 183 Palestinians — almost all of them with live ammunition. The dead included 35 children. Twenty-three thousand people were injured, including over 6,000 shot by live ammunition. We speak with Sara Hossain, a member of the U.N. independent commission that led the Gaza investigation.

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TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: A United Nations inquiry has found Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by targeting unarmed children, journalists and the disabled in Gaza. The report, released by the U.N. Human Rights Council Thursday, looked at Israel’s bloody response to weekly Great March of Return demonstrations, launched by Palestinians in Gaza nearly a year ago, targeting Israel’s heavily militarized separation barrier. The report found Israeli forces have killed 183 Palestinians, almost all of them with live ammunition. The dead included 35 children. Twenty-three thousand people were injured, including over 6,000 shot by live ammunition. Santiago Canton chaired the U.N. commission.

SANTIAGO CANTON: The commission has found reasonable grounds to believe that the Israeli security forces committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. These violations clearly warrant criminal investigation and prosecution, and we call on Israel to conduct meaningful investigations into these serious violations and to provide timely justice and reparations for those killed and injured.

AMY GOODMAN: Another member of the U.N. independent commission, Sara Hossain, described how Israeli forces targeted civilians and journalists in Gaza.

SARA HOSSAIN: We are saying that they have intentionally shot children, they have intentionally shot people with disabilities, they have intentionally shot journalists, knowing them to be children, people with disabilities and journalists. And some of the children — not all of the children are visibly children perhaps, but many of them are. As Commissioner Murungi just said, the journalists were all marked with press vests, that we investigated. And the people with disabilities, as I said, a double amputee in a wheelchair, a person using crutches, they were visibly that. And they’ve been shot at by snipers, who also have spotters available with them, who have very high-level technology available to see who is out there in the field.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.N. report called on nations to arrest, quote, “persons alleged to have committed, or ordered to have committed, the international crimes,” unquote, or to seek their extradition. The U.N. also demanded Israel immediately lift the blockade on Gaza. Israel’s acting foreign minister dismissed the report as “theater of the absurd.” However, grieving Palestinians welcomed the report, including Raeda Ayoub, whose teenage son Mohammad was killed during the Gaza protests.

RAEDA AYOUB: [translated] We are happy that someone is supporting Gaza’s children, and we are happy that they are supporting us to defend Gaza’s children and youth in Gaza against the crimes committed by the occupation.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.N. report was issued Thursday, the same day Israel’s attorney general announced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing an indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

For more, we’re joined by two guests. Sara Hossain is a member of the U.N. independent commission that led the Gaza investigation. She’s also a barrister practicing in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. She joins us from Dhaka, Bangladesh. And here in New York, scholar Norman Finkelstein, author of many books, including Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Sara Hossain, let’s begin with you. Tell us about the most significant findings of your report and how this report came into being.

SARA HOSSAIN: I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear that.

AMY GOODMAN: Please explain the findings of the report.

SARA HOSSAIN: Sure. I mean, this report was commissioned as basis of a resolution by the Human Rights Council. And accordingly, we’ve conducted investigations for about six months now with trained investigators and a team of experts. I should mention, we haven’t been given access to Gaza or to Israel, which obviously has hampered us quite considerably. But nevertheless, we have been able to interview witnesses, and we have been able to interview many victims, as well, some in person and some remotely. We’ve also been able to gather an extraordinary amount of documentary material, including video and drone footage, social media content, as well as all of the affidavits and other testimonies. So, based on that, we’ve come to our assessment.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about the most significant findings.

SARA HOSSAIN: The most significant, I think, is just the number of killings and the numbers of injuries. There are 183 Palestinians who have been killed in the course of the period that we have investigated, which is from the 30th of March to the 31st of December. As you know, the demonstrations are continuing, and killings and injuries have continued to be reported, but we’ve just covered this particular period. We also found, as you said, over 6,000 injuries to Palestinians caused by live fire. We found that four Israeli soldiers had been injured during this time, and two Israeli soldiers had also been killed, but both of those were outside the particular parameters of the investigation. They weren’t in the context of — they weren’t at the protest sites, although one of them was within the protest times. And I think, amongst the numbers of killings, what we also found, which was of great concern, was the fact that protected — groups who are protected categories in international law, protected persons, such as children, people with disabilities, and also health workers and journalists, were amongst those who were both killed and injured in large numbers.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.N. report calls on states to arrest “persons alleged to have committed, or ordered to have committed, the international crimes.” What exactly does that mean?

SARA HOSSAIN: Well, our investigation is done according to the standard of reasonable grounds to believe. It’s not a criminal investigation. We have made some preliminary findings based on the facts as we found them, and applying international human rights law and international humanitarian law where that was relevant, given that we’re speaking about the context of an occupation and the context — in certain contexts, the conduct of hostilities. So we’ve made these findings, but we believe that these need to be taken further. We’ve called on Israel itself to conduct investigations, and we understand that Israel has opened at least five investigations into the incidents that we’ve found. But we are not clear why it has not opened a larger number of investigations. We think that’s the first thing that should happen. We’ve also asked for the international community to look into this. We are going to present our findings, hand them over to the high commissioner for human rights of the United Nations. And I think then it’s for other bodies to take this further. As —

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to acting Israeli foreign minister —

SARA HOSSAIN: — you know, there’s a process at the International Criminal Court.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, UNComments Off on UN Finds the Nazi regime Intentionally Shot Children, Journalists and Disabled People

Unified Action to Fight Deforestation

The Amazon is burning and global deforestation accelerating – we need unified international action.

By Nicole Polsterer

Global Research,

Jair Bolsonaro defied his critics at the UN General Assembly in New York this month – as expected – denouncing those maintaining that his policies have fanned the flames of the Amazon fires.

Brazil’s President declared:

“We all know that all countries have problems. The sensationalist attacks we have suffered due to fire outbreaks have aroused our patriotic sentiment.”

This echoed his repeated claim that the fires in the world’s largest tropical rainforest were being used as an “excuse” to attack his government by countries who want to “control” the Amazon and get their hands on its riches, and that the G7 nation’s offer of $20 million to help tackle the fires was colonialism by another name.

Brazilian vanguard

The idea that outsiders are using the fires to undermine Brazil’s sovereignty resonates with Bolsonaro’s core constituency. But it ignores key facts.

First, it is Brazilians – among them, the one million Indigenous Peoples who call the Amazon home – who are suffering from the fires’ impact, and it is Brazilians who are in the vanguard of fighting them.

Second, while clear policy choices by the Bolsonaro government have increased the deforestation which has driven the fires, the European leaders criticising him are also complicit, as their countries are often importing the products that are grown on recently deforested land.

At the end of August, Fern and 25 other NGOs highlighted this in an open letter to the President-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and other EU leaders.

The letter pointed out that European consumption is intimately linked to the current disaster in the Amazon – as well as the global increase in deforestation.

This is because of EU producers’ voracious appetite for agricultural products, including from Brazil. The fires in the Amazon were started by landholders wanting to improve grass cover in cattle pastures, or to burn felled trees in preparation for crops. Much of what they produce is for export.

New chapter

This week in New York, world leaders have the chance to write a new chapter in alleviating the crisis that is affecting the world’s forests – which, after all, has global consequences.

It’s a path that does not impinge on other countries’ sovereignty: international regulatory action.

After all, voluntary commitments by companies, however well-meaning, do not work in isolation. This was the conclusion of those Member States and companies who signed the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF), which saw dozens of countries and more than 50 of the world’s biggest companies committing to end deforestation by 2020, a deadline which they admit they will fail to meet. National and international laws will be needed, as all the evidence shows.

The need for EU governments to take collective action was made by Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission, on Sunday in New York at an event to mark the fifth anniversary of the NYDF.

“When it comes to deforestation, no one gets to say that this is not our business too. Forests are a global public good. When healthy we all benefit, when burning we all suffer,” he said.

The EU is considering developing legislation to rid its supply chains of deforestation and human rights abuses, and others should follow suit: on 23 July it released a communication committing itself to measures to “increase supply chain transparency and minimise the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with commodity imports in the EU.”

But it qualified how it wanted to do this, emphasising it wanted to engage in a ‘partnership approach’.

Partnership approach

The communication states that within bilateral dialogues with major consumer and producer countries it would:

Share experience and information on the respective policy and legal frameworks; and identify joint activities to inform policy developments based on an advanced understanding of the impacts of deforestation and forest degradation”.

While these sound vague, the EU has in the past shown itself to be capable of turning a partnership approach into reality  – principally through its flagship measures to address illegal logging, where they chose to hardwire partnership into the core of their approach by negotiating Voluntary Partnership Agreements with timber-producing countries.

The strength of these agreements is that they aren’t imposed from outside, but evolve within the countries themselves through wide consultation with a variety of parties, including civil society and forest communities.

Such an approach should be the template for the EU’s approach to ending the deforestation and human rights abuses in its agricultural supply chains. It could also set an example for the rest of the world.

As the 2020 commitments approach fast, now is the time for unified, ambitious – and constructive – international action to combat deforestation. And Regulation must be at their core.

Posted in Brazil, UNComments Off on Unified Action to Fight Deforestation

US plan to bug Security Council: the text

Image result for UN Security Council CARTOON

Online document: The text of the memorandum detailing the US plan to bug the phones and emails of key Security Council members, revealed in today’s Observer

Talk about it: dirty tricks?

Iraq: Observer special

Sun 2 Mar 2003 18.40 GMTFirst published on Sun 2 Mar 2003 18.40 GMT

Shares6To: [Recipients withheld]
From: FRANK KOZA, Def Chief of Staff (Regional Targets)
CIV/NSA Sent on Jan 31 2003 0:16
Subject: Reflections of Iraq Debate/Votes at UN-RT Actions + Potential for Related Contributions
Importance: HIGH
Top Secret//COMINT//X1

All,

As you’ve likely heard by now, the Agency is mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council (UNSC) members (minus US and GBR of course) for insights as to how to membership is reacting to the on-going debate RE: Iraq, plans to vote on any related resolutions, what related policies/ negotiating positions they may be considering, alliances/ dependencies, etc – the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises. In RT, that means a QRC surge effort to revive/ create efforts against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters.

We’ve also asked ALL RT topi’s to emphasize and make sure they pay attention to existing non-UNSC member UN-related and domestic comms for anything useful related to the UNSC deliberations/ debates/ votes. We have a lot of special UN-related diplomatic coverage (various UN delegations) from countries not sitting on the UNSC right now that could contribute related perspectives/ insights/ whatever. We recognize that we can’t afford to ignore this possible source.

We’d appreciate your support in getting the word to your analysts who might have similar, more in-direct access to valuable information from accesses in your product lines. I suspect that you’ll be hearing more along these lines in formal channels – especially as this effort will probably peak (at least for this specific focus) in the middle of next week, following the SecState’s presentation to the UNSC.

Thanks for your help

· Footnote: This email was originally transcribed with English spellings standardised for a British audience. Following enquiries about this, we have reverted to the original US-spelling as in the document leaked to The Observer.

Posted in USA, UNComments Off on US plan to bug Security Council: the text

UN Works with Intelligence Contractors to Destabilize North Korea Dialogue

By William CRADDICK

Just a few days after NBC News and National Public Radio (NPR) launched propaganda attempts to undermine the peace process between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United Nations has waded into the fray with a new attempt to build a case for retaining sanctions that have proven to be a sticking point between the negotiation teams.

Much like previous reports, the United Nation’s Panel of Experts (PoE) on North Korea utilized misleadingly interpreted satellite footage provided by private firms who have contractual connections to the CIA and Pentagon. The panel’s findings will ultimately be used to support policies that are aimed at playing on North Korean fears and make them more likely to withdraw or engage in counterproductive behavior.

I. Continued Misleading Interpretation Of Satellite Footage

The PoE’s claimed that the DPRK has been using an “underwater pipeline” at an oil terminal in Nampo, North Korea to offload fuel it receives by sanctioned methods. Much like with previous attempts to “prove” North Korean behavior with satellite imagery that did not actually show evidence of claimed activity the UN’s contentions are similarly based on shaky grounds.

Image: UN Panel of Experts

A second photo run by NKNews.org from private defense contractor Planet Labs purports to also show the “underwater pipeline.” NK News claimed that the underwater pipeline had been used since 2018 solely based on the fact that ships moved in and out of the area, which is obviously designated for mooring.

Vessel docked in the area connected by an alleged “underwater pipeline.” Image: Planet Labs

There are a number of problems with both the photos provided by the Panel of Experts and the Planet Labs image published by NK News. These issues are outlined below.

  • None of the images shows where the “underwater pipeline” comes ashore. It is not visible under the water’s surface, even where the shoreline is shallow.
  • None of the cables connecting to the ship are pipelines. They are cabling used to moor the ship in place.
  • All of the buoys are in place to mark either mooring cables or the ship’s anchor which would have been dropped alongside it once it came to a stop. The UN PoE labeled the anchor buoy as an “offloading buoy” misleadingly in one of their images.
  • An “underwater pipeline” creates a huge risk for salt water contamination of gasoline being pumped through it. This is why all such transfers are done above the surface of the water.

Additional markings on the UN PoE’s images discuss the storage capacity and location of the oil terminal in Nampo but provide no evidence of an “underwater pipeline.” Even more damning, the image provided to NK News by Planet Labs shows a very clear shadow running down its center. This indicates that either two photographs were laid on top of each other and copied, or the original image was creased to hide some detail that would have otherwise been visible.

The use of an underwater pipeline is not the standard method by which ships refuel. Previous reports discussing sanctions evasion display photographs showing how ships will commonly lash together before exchanging gasoline above the water line. When ships to take on fuel from land, they will pull up along a dock. These kinds of details might be obvious to anyone with a degree of maritime knowledge but not a layman.

Image showing customary method by which ships dock to take on fuel.

II. Satellite Footage Of Nampo Docks Is Sourced From Intelligence Contractors

Much like with previous attempts to undermine the Korean peace process, the UN PoE has sourced their imagery from private contractors who primarily work with the CIA and Pentagon. The PoE’s satellite footage is attributed to DigitalGlobe. As Disobedient Media has previously reported, DigitalGlobe is an American vendor of satellite imagery founded by a scientist who worked on the US military’s Star Wars ICBM defense program under President Ronald Reagan. DigitalGlobe began its existence in Oakland, CA and was seeded with money from Silicon Valley sources and corporations in North America, Europe and Japan. Headquartered in Westminster CO, DigitalGlobe works extensively with defense and intelligence programs. In 2016, it was revealed that DigitalGlobe was working with CIA chipmaker NVIDIA and Amazon Web Services to create an AI-run satellite surveillance network known as Spacenet.

DigitalGlobe is a subsidiary of Maxar Technologies, a private conglomerate which boasts contracts with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Some subsidiaries of Maxar derive as much as 90% of their annual revenue from government contracts with the Department of Defense and U.S. Special Operations Command.

Planet Labs, whose imagery was cited in NK News reports of the UN PoE’s findings, is a private satellite imaging corporation based in San Francisco, CA that allows customers with the money to pay an opportunity to gain access to next generation surveillance capabilities. In February 2016, Federal technology news source Nextgov noted a statement from former CIA Information Operations Center director and senior cyber adviser Sue Gordon that Planet Labs, DigitalGlobe and Google subsidiary Skybox Imaging were all working with the NGA to provide location intelligence. Planet Labs’ own website also lists press releases detailing past contracts for subscription access to high resolution imagery with the NGA.

The pervasive involvement of companies providing satellite footage with the CIA in particular is deeply inappropriate. On March 13, 2019 Spanish paper El País reported that the CIA had been implicated in a shockingly violent attack on the North Korean embassy in Spain during the week before the Hanoi Summit. The attack was speculated to be an attempt to gain intelligence on former ambassador to Spain Kim Hyok Chol, who had been appointed by Kim Jong Un to spearhead negotiation efforts with their American counterparts. The involvement of such contractors in a UN panel responsible for overseeing sanctions put into place against North Korea suggests the very real possibility that the entire process is designed to undermine any hope of a denuclearization agreement.

III. The UN PoE Touts Sanctions At A Highly Inappropriate Time

The UN’s decision to continue to tout sanctions in the aftermath of the Hanoi Summit can only be interpreted as an attempt by internationalists and American neoconservatives to scuttle President Donald Trump’s attempts to seek denuclearization for the DPRK. Hugh Griffiths, a British national heading the Panel of Experts, was widely quoted by the media as being of the opinion that Chairman Kim Jong Un had only come to Hanoi to try and relieve the pressure of created by sanctions. It apparently did not bother the international and American press that Mr. Griffiths’ mandate does not include giving his opinion about unrelated peace talks.

Griffiths finds himself in agreement with a number of GOP neoconservative hardliners such as former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley who stress the importance of sanctions with the ostensible goal of cutting off revenue to the DPRK. Some such as John Bolton have openly called for an increase in sanctions in clear opposition to President Trump’s clearly stated desire to seek further dialogue. North Korea has explicitly mentioned the actions and comments of Bolton as endangering the health of negotiations while continuing to maintain that personal relations between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump were “still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful.”

While the stated objective of sanctions is to deprive North Korea of revenue that can be used to finance purchases related to its nuclear program, it is undeniable that they contribute majorly to economic hardship and starvation for the civilian population of the DPRK. In 2018, UNICEF noted that sanctions create severe issues with the delivery of humanitarian aid and put the lives of tens of thousands of children in danger alone. While North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons was certainly what landed them in the situation they currently find themselves in, it is the callous disregard of human welfare by the United Nations, internationalist and certain American interests which causes an increase in such needless suffering.

Considering that nations such as Japan have recently moved to suspend efforts to condemn and punish the DPRK for their rights abuses in light of progress made during the negotiation process, the UN’s move to shift the spotlight back onto sanctions is incredibly poorly-timed. The same can be said for US agencies such as the Department of State who have interfered with talks by openly welcoming the Panel of Expert’s report.

IV. Media And The UN Ignore Actual Evidence Of Sanctions Evasion

Despite all the efforts of international media, the UN and other factions to foment conflict between the DPRK and United States they been curiously unable to identify real evidence of parties who are trying to smuggle goods in and out of North Korea to dodge sanctions.

Footpaths being used to move goods to and from China along the border near Kusong-Dong, North Korea. Credit: DigitalGlobe, detail added by Disobedient Media

With a search of just a few minutes on Google Earth along the Chinese-North Korean border, Disobedient Media was able to identify pathways being used by smugglers to move goods in avoidance of sanctions near Kusong-Dong, North Korea. The ease with which this verifiable information could be found shows just how inept and uninterested monitoring bodies and international media organizations are in finding actual evidence of any potential sanctions violations. The failure of these institutions suggests that their efforts are made solely with propaganda in mind.

The current drive to highlight supposed bad faith behaviors by the DPRK has absolutely nothing to do with promoting peace or encouraging North Korea to abandon their nuclear arsenal which is as dangerous to them as it is any of their enemies. The increase with which such disingenuous reports have been promulgated since the Hanoi Summit shows the increasing desperation with which certain factions are seeking to maintain hostilities which create a benefit for some but which are ultimately dangerous to the entire world. It seems that there is no low to which such parties will not stoop in order to prevent peace from being realized.

Perhaps the United Nations should spend more time focusing on preventing their officials and peacekeepers from committing a plethora of sex crimes while on the job.

Related

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Posted in USA, North Korea, UNComments Off on UN Works with Intelligence Contractors to Destabilize North Korea Dialogue

‘World Has Never Seen a Threat to Human Rights of This Scope,’ UN Rights Chief Says of Climate Emergency

“The window of opportunity for action may be closing—but there is still time to act.”

byAndrea Germanos

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, listens to the meeting introduction before delivering opening remarks while hosting a debate on key human rights issues in the country at ICS—Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa on April 29, 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo: Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

“We are burning up our future—literally,” the United Nations human rights chief said Monday, as she called the climate crisis a “rapidly growing and global threat to human rights.”

In fact, said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, “The world has never seen a threat to human rights of this scope.”

Bachelet’s warning came in her remarks to the Human Rights Council on the opening day of the body’s September session in Geneva.

No corner of the globe is untouched by the impacts of the warming planet, said Bachelet, noting that the crisis is already worsening hunger, conflict, and extreme weather. Among the current manifestations are the burning of the Amazon rain forest, the full impact of which “may never be known.”

While the fires’ impact may “catastrophic” on “humanity as a whole,” their worst effects, Bachelet said, “are suffered by the women, men, and children who live in these areas—among them, many indigenous peoples.”

The high commissioner also pointed to Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the Bahamas last week. The storm “accelerated with unprecedented speed over an ocean warmed by climate shifts, becoming one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever to hit land,” she said, and took “a terrible toll on human life.” But worse could be yet to come for the Bahamas and other Caribbean nations, she said, as rising sea levels may submerge portions of the countries and unleash “an inestimable loss for humanity.”

Laying out some of the impacts of the crisis, she said:

WHO expects climate change to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050—from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress alone. In many nations, chaotic weather patterns and other manifestations of our environmental emergency are already reversing major development gains; exacerbating conflict, displacement and social tension; hampering economic growth; and shaping increasingly harsh inequalities.

Environmental human rights defenders are performing “a great service… to humanity,” said Bachelet, yet they face violence and abuse, particularly in Latin America. One activist she noted by name was Swedish teen Greta Thunberg. Bachelet said she was “disheartened” by the verbal abuse levied at Thunberg and other young activists, “who galvanize support for prevention of the harm their generation may bear.”

“The demands made by environmental defenders and activists are compelling,” Bachelet added, “and we should respect, protect, and fulfill their rights.”

Bachelet stressed the urgency of climate action, saying, “The window of opportunity for action may be closing—but there is still time to act.” She pointed to the U.N.’s Climate Action Summit later this month as a moment when states should commit to “the strongest possible action to prevent climate change, and to promote the resilience and rights of your people in dealing with environmental harm.”

“Effective action on climate requires bringing the uncommitted and unconvinced into a shared, just, and truly international effort,” said Bachelet. “Human rights can help galvanize that movement.”

Posted in Environment, UNComments Off on ‘World Has Never Seen a Threat to Human Rights of This Scope,’ UN Rights Chief Says of Climate Emergency

Leaked UN Draft Report Warns Rising, Warming Oceans ‘Poised to Unleash Misery’ Worldwide

The assessment details anticipated declines in fish stocks as well as increases in damage by superstorms and displacement due to rising seas

by: Jessica Corbett

A dock sits damaged near the Statue of Liberty

A dock sits damaged near the Statue of Liberty, which remained closed to the public six weeks after Hurricane Sandy on December 13, 2012 in New York City. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

A draft United Nations report warns “the same oceans that nourished human evolution are poised to unleash misery on a global scale unless the carbon pollution destabilizing Earth’s marine environment is brought to heel,” according to Agence France-Presse, which exclusively reported on the 900-page scientific assessment Thursday.

The forthcoming report from a U.N. body that assesses science related to the human-caused planetary emergency is due to be released to the public Sep. 25, after diplomats and experts meet in Monaco to approve the final Summary for Policymakers.

AFP, which obtained a draft of the U.N. assessment, reported:

Destructive changes already set in motion could see a steady decline in fish stocks, a hundred-fold or more increase in the damages caused by superstorms, and hundreds of millions of people displaced by rising seas, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “special report” on oceans and Earth’s frozen zones, known as the cryosphere.

As the 21st century unfolds, melting glaciers will first give too much and then too little to billions who depend on them for fresh water, it finds.

Without deep cuts to manmade emissions, at least 30 percent of the northern hemisphere’s surface permafrost could melt by century’s end, unleashing billions of tonnes of carbon and accelerating global warming even more.

The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate will follow the IPCC’s recent reports about what the world would look like with 1.5°C of warmingabove pre-industrial levels—the lower target of the global Paris climate agreement—and the need for transformative changes to land use to address both planetary heating and hunger.

In a statement earlier this year, Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II—which focuses on the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to the climate crisis—noted that the U.N. body’s October report showed the broad benefits to people and natural ecosystems of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

“The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate takes this story one step further by evaluating how human and natural communities with be affected by the impacts of climate change on two earth systems that touch all of our lives directly or indirectly, the ocean and the frozen areas of the world,” Roberts said. “It also assesses how we can set the course for a more sustainable and equitable future by reducing or better managing this impact.”

While those working on the IPCC’s ocean report aim to provide the international community with yet another tool to help avert the most catastrophic potential consequences of rising temperatures, AFP pointed out that the crucial advice for policymakers will be released “too late to be considered by world leaders gathering two days earlier for a summit convened by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to extract stronger national commitments in confronting the climate crisis.”

When it comes to the September summit, which is focused on the key goals of the Paris accord, AFP reported that “Guterres may be disappointed by what the world’s major greenhouse gas emitters put on the table, according to experts tracking climate politics in China, the United States, the European Union, and India.”

“The Big Four—accounting for nearly 60 percent of global fossil fuel-based emissions—all face devastating ocean- and ice-related impacts, but none seem prepared just announce more ambitious goals for purging carbon from their economies,” AFPcontinued, detailing some of those impacts based on the IPCC draft.

By 2050, many low-lying megacities and small island nations will experience “extreme sea level events” every year, even under the most optimistic emissions reduction scenarios, the report concludes.

By 2100, “annual flood damages are expected to increase by two to three orders of magnitude,” or 100 to 1,000 fold, the draft summary for policymakers says.

Even if the world manages to cap global warming at 2°C, the global ocean waterline will rise enough to displace more than a quarter of a billion people.

Experts are divided on the anticipated timeline for such mass displacement due to sea level rise. However, Ben Strauss, CEO and chief scientist of the U.S.-based research group Climate Central, told AFP that “even if the number is 100 or 50 million by 2100, that’s still a major disruption and a lot of human misery.”

Strauss, whose research informs some of the IPCC report’s conclusions, added that “if we warm the planet by 2°C by 2100 we will only be at the beginning of a runaway train ride of sea level rise.”

In an op-ed published Thursday by Reuters, Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan declared that “tackling the climate emergency and protecting our oceans go hand-in-hand,” noting that “the oceans naturally take in huge amounts of carbon dioxide and are a key defense against the worsening impacts of climate change.

Morgan called on world leaders attending the U.N. summit in September to “commit to adopting a strong Global Ocean Treaty in 2020.” She wrote:

The scope of this new global agreement could be huge: almost half of the planet. The High Seas, oceans beyond borders, cover more space on our planet than all continents combined. Sadly, today these international waters are being ruthlessly exploited. In addition to climate change, pressures from overfishing, deep sea mining exploration, oil drilling, and plastic pollution are pushing our oceans to the verge of collapse. Only around 1 percent of the global seas are properly protected. There is no effective legal instrument that allows the creation of ocean sanctuaries—areas off-limits to harmful human activities—on international waters.

“Scientists are clear that we need to protect at least 30 percent of our global oceans by 2030 if we are to safeguard wildlife and to help mitigate the impacts of climate change,” Morgan added. “But that will only happen if an ambitious ocean treaty is adopted fast and opens the door to creating effective ocean sanctuaries in international waters.”

Posted in Environment, UNComments Off on Leaked UN Draft Report Warns Rising, Warming Oceans ‘Poised to Unleash Misery’ Worldwide

UN experts urge India to end ‘collective punishment’ in Kashmir

By Agence France-Presse 

A group of UN human rights experts on Thursday urged India to end the communications blackout imposed on Kashmir, warning it amounted to “collective punishment” and risked exacerbating regional tensions.

They voiced alarm over the measures imposed by India since it revoked autonomous rule in occupied Kashmir on Aug 5, including a near-total communications blackout.

“The shutdown of the internet and telecommunication networks, without justification from the government, are inconsistent with the fundamental norms of necessity and proportionality,” the five experts, who are independent and do not speak for the world body, said in a statement.

“The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence,” they said, describing the restrictions imposed as “intrinsically disproportionate”.

The experts also voiced concern about the curfew imposed across the region, with “massive numbers of troops (brought in) to enforce restrictions on the freedom of movement and of peaceful assembly, particularly in the Kashmir Valley.”

Kashmir has waged a three-decade long armed rebellion against Indian rule with tens of thousands of lives, mostly civilians, lost in the conflict.

Ahead of its August 5 announcement, India rushed tens of thousands of extra troops to the restive region to join 500,000 already in the valley, and imposed a strict clampdown fearing further unrest.

According to security and government forces, at least 4,000 people have been detained in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

The UN experts said they had received information suggesting an increase in arrests of political figures, journalists, human rights activists, protesters and others.

And they said they were deeply concerned by reports that security forces have been conducting night raids on private homes, rounding up young people.

“Such detentions could constitute serious human rights violations,” the experts said, calling on the authorities to thoroughly investigate all such allegations and to ensure that any confirmed perpetrators are held responsible.

They also expressed grave concern over allegations that the whereabouts of some of those detained was unknown, warning of “the general heightened risk of enforced disappearances, which may proliferate against the backdrop of mass arrests and restricted access to the internet and other communications networks”.

They also noted the “excessive use of force against protesters, including the use of live ammunition.”

“India has the responsibility to use the minimum force necessary when policing protests,” the experts said, insisting that deadly force could only be used as a “last resort and to protect life.”

Posted in India, Pakistan & Kashmir, UNComments Off on UN experts urge India to end ‘collective punishment’ in Kashmir

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