Wednesday, September 21, 2016

World Leaders Addressing the U.N. General Assembly

Italian President Matteo RenziClosing out the first day of the United Nations General Assembly’s annual general debate, Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, echoed the earlier statement of the United States President, highlighting how the world has become divided into one of fear and another of courage; between anger and opportunity.

Terrorism menaces cities and everyday life, threatening not just conventional targets but a theatre, a museum, a stadium, a restaurant, he told the Assembly. Pandemics and environmental risks are also very real. All of that makes the future look like a moment of concern rather than hope, and the problems are not theoretical but very real, in the faces of the victims and survivors. Those challenges no longer have borders.

Italy, he continued, contributed its voice through the actions of its military and coast guard, who saved thousands and thousands of lives in the Mediterranean every day. It contributed its voice through its leadership in culture and scientific research. But it also gave through its history and values, including those of The Aeneid, in which Aeneas travelled not to return to his home but to a new land to create a new civilization.

“Without compassion for others, we are not worthy of being called a community,” said the Prime Minister.

The Mediterranean is the sea which thousands of people cross to escape war, poverty and hunger. It is essential that Europe and the international community unite to deal with the issues of that part of the world, he said.

The threat of terrorism has come not just from war zones but also from the abandoned and forgotten outskirts of cities, and investing in human capital is essential to defeating this scourge, he said. Italy has, in response, approved a law matching every euro for security and policing with one euro for culture and education.

Italy will tackle the challenges of 2017 by participating in the Security Council, in a year that will also see a new Secretary-General, he said. Italy will also host, on 25 March 2017, the countries of the European Union at the sixtieth anniversary of the signature of the treaty that formed the bloc. And Italy will also host the Group of 7 in Sicily, a place noted for its culture and values and history.

Italy plans to use the Group of 7 meeting to reflect on cultural values and to highlight the challenges of food – both food insecurity and health awareness. Many of the issues facing the Security Council, Europe and the Group of 7, emanate from the same matrix, he said, stressing that it is essential to create a world based on hope, not resentment, hatred and fear.

(UN Press Release)

September 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

United Nations General Debate Opens

With the world facing a massive immigration crisis, multiple armed conflicts and economic disruption, a strong United Nations is more necessary than ever, Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann told the General Assembly today on the opening day of its General Debate.

“Since the start of the 20th century our generation is the first not to have lived through a world war. The UN has largely contributed to this result, even if it must be agreed that there are too many regional conflicts and this produce too many victims,” he said.

He cited the UN’s “tireless efforts” in mobilizing international efforts in numerous fields from cutting poverty in half to increasing life expectancy to improving global education. “I am firmly convinced that the only viable responses to contemporary challenges are collective solutions effected in solidarity,” Mr. Schneider-Ammann said.

“To bring these about, the international community needs a strong, modern and efficient UN. The path is thus set before us. It is now up to us together to accompany this Organization with foresight and determination.

(UN Press Release)


September 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 9, 2016

U.S. House Passes Bill Removing Sovereign Immunity for Saudi Arabia in Connection with the 9/11 Attacks

A few days before the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the U.S. House of Representatives has just passed legislation that would waive Saudi sovereign immunity in connection with litigation by families of those killed in the attacks. President Obama is expected to veto that legislation but there is speculation that the House would have enough votes to override the veto.

Click here to read more.

(mew)

September 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Stephen Zamora has died.

Stephen ZamoraWe share the profoundly sad news that Professor Stephen Thomas Zamora of the University of Houston Law Center has died at the age of 72. He died suddenly from a heart attack early July in Mexico. He had been spending time in Mexico with his wife and college sweetheart of almost 50 years, Lois Parkinson Zamora.

at the time of his passing he was concluding a year living and reveling in the beauty of Mexico with his wife of almost 50 years, Lois Parkinson Zamora. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?pid=180654761#sthash.Gp0LxC0o.dpuf
at the time of his passing he was concluding a year living and reveling in the beauty of Mexico with his wife of almost 50 years, Lois Parkinson Zamora. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?pid=180654761#sthash.Gp0LxC0o.dpuf

Professor Zamora had joined the Houston Law Center faculty in 1978, and served as the Law Center's Dean from 1995 to 2000. He earned a B.A. degree from Stanford University in 1966 and a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall) in 1972, where he graduated first in his class and served as Chief Articles Editor of the California Law Review. At the Law Center, Professor Zamora directs the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law, and also serves as Director of the North American Consortium on Legal Education. Before joining the faculty of the University of Houston Law Center in 1978, he practiced international law in Washington, D.C., first as an associate in the law firm of Clearly, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton, and then as an attorney with the World Bank. He was a Senior Fulbright Lecturer in Mexico, and had been a visiting professor at Yale Law School and Fordham Law School. An expert on NAFTA, in 1996, Zamora served as a member of a NAFTA dispute resolution panel that decided the first government-to-government dispute under NAFTA (U.S. v. Canada -- Dairy, Poultry and Eggs from the United States).

Professor Zamora was a member of the American Law Institute, of the American Society of International Law, and of the American Society of Comparative Law. In 2006, he received the highest distinction awarded by the Mexican government to a foreign national, the Order of the Aztec Eagle, in recognition of his work in promoting U.S. - Mexican understanding. He was the lead author of the book Mexican Law, published in 2004 by Oxford University Press, and he authored numerous articles and book chapters on international economic law, international banking law, international trade law (NAFTA), international monetary law, and Mexican law. Professor Zamora's areas of expertise included contracts, international trade law, conflicts of law, Mexican Law, and NAFTA.

He was deeply respected and admired in the legal academy, particularly among all those professors who knew his work with Mexico. A charming, gentle soul, he will be greatly missed. We extend our condolences to his family, friends, students, and colleagues.

(mew)

September 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Concern Over Statement by Senior Official in Burundi, Denying Genocide in Rwanda

The United Nations Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has expressed concern at inflammatory statements concerning the genocide in Rwanda that were made by a senior official of the ruling party in Burundi and cautioned that such statements could constitute incitement to violence.

On 16 August, Pascal Nyabenda, at that time the President of the ruling Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) party and President of the National Assembly suggested that the genocide in Rwanda was a “fabrication of the international community” and that it was used to remove the Hutu government that was in place at the time.

“This irresponsible statement could be interpreted as genocide denial”, Mr. Dieng said in astatement issued by his Office. “[It] has the potential to inflame ethnic tensions, both within Burundi and outside its borders,” he warned.

A new head of the CNDD-FDD has been appointed by the party at its meeting on 20 August but Mr. Nyabenda continues in his role as President of the National Assembly.

The statement added that the situation in the African country continues to be marred by instability and serious human rights violations, including allegations of extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detention of members of the opposition, civil society and those suspected of opposing the Government continue to be reported.

Concerns at the situation in Burundi were also expressed by the Geneva-based UN Committee Against Torture in their concluding observations, issued on 11 August, following its review of a special report submitted at the request of the Committee.

Mr. Dieng’s statement noted that the Committee had urged the Government of Burundi to refrain from making any public statements that could exacerbate ethnic tensions or incite violence or hatred and to ensure that public and law enforcement officials do not accept or tolerate such acts.

The Committee Against Torture is a body of independent human rights experts who monitor the implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties.

Mr. Dieng’s statement also noted that human rights defenders and journalists are among the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the country since April 2015.

He further raised concern that the youth wing of the CNDD-FDD party, known as the Imbonerakure, continues to be associated with human rights abuses and is reported to have threatened ethnic violence.

According to the country’s Minister of the Interior, the Imbonakure formed part of the national security strategy, noted the statement.

Reminding the Government of its obligation to protect its populations, regardless of their ethnicity or political affiliation, and to refrain from any action or discourse that could inflame ethnic tensions, Mr. Dieng stressed:

“[It is important to] counter such messages with alternative speech to foster unity rather than further entrench divisions, and [I call] call on all parties to prioritize inclusive dialogue to bring about an end to the protracted crisis.”

Burundi was thrown into crisis more than a year ago when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial third term that he went on to win. To date, it has been reported that hundreds of people have been killed, more than 240,000 have fled the nation, and thousands more have been arrested and possibly subjected to human rights violations.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

September 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Calls for Investigation of Violations in Yemen

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the international community to establish an international, independent body to carry out comprehensive investigations of human rights violations in Yemen. “[Civilians in Yemen] continue to suffer, absent any form of accountability and justice, while those responsible for the violations and abuses against them enjoy impunity,” High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a news release issued by his office (OHCHR). “Such a manifestly, protractedly unjust situation must no longer be tolerated by the international community,” he added.

The UN human rights chief's call comes as his office (OHCHR) released a report on the situation of human rights in the country which outlines many serious allegations of violations and abuses committed by all sides to the conflict in Yemen and highlights in particular their impact on civilian lives, health and infrastructure. It contains examples of the kinds of possible violations that have occurred between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016, including attacks on residential areas, marketplaces, medical and educational facilities, and public and private infrastructure; the use of landmines and cluster bombs; sniper attacks against civilians; deprivation of liberty, targeted killings, the recruitment and use of children in hostilities, and forced evictions and displacement.

“The perpetuation of the conflict and its consequences on the population in Yemen are devastating,” the report stated, adding: “The international community […] has a legal and moral duty to take urgent steps to alleviate the appalling levels of human despair.” The report also noted that in several of the documented military attacks, OHCHR was unable to identify the presence of possible military objectives. “In numerous situations where military targets could be identified, there remain serious concerns as to whether the incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects that could be expected from the attack were not excessive in relation to the anticipated concrete and direct military advantage apparently sought,” it added.

Furthermore, while a national commission of inquiry was established in September 2015 by the President of Yemen, the report found that the commission did not enjoy the cooperation of all concerned parties and could not operate in all parts of the country. “It was thus unable to implement its mandate in accordance with international standards,” said the news release. It further noted that the High Commissioner also urged all parties to the conflict to work towards a negotiated and durable solution to the conflict in the best interest of the Yemeni people and to ensure full respect for international humanitarian law.

According to the UN human rights arm, between March 2015 and 23 August 2016, an estimated 3,799 civilians have been killed and 6,711 injured as result of the war in Yemen. Furthermore, at least 7.6 million people, including three million women and children are currently suffering from malnutrition and at least three million people have been forced to flee their homes.

Following nearly 16 months of conflict in Yemen, the cessation of hostilities was declared on 10 April. While peace talks between a Yemeni Government delegation and a delegation of the General People's Congress and Ansar Allah continued, serious violations have occurred in Marib, al Jawf, Taiz and in the border areas with Saudi Arabia. Those UN-facilitated talks ended on 6 August.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

September 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Costa Rica First State to Ratify Inter-American Convention Against Racism

This past week, Costa Rica became the first country to ratify the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, which was approved by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in June 2013. 

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance "reaffirms the States’ commitment to the elimination of racial discrimination and the effective realization of the principle of equality in the region. This instrument reinforces international standards established in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and takes a step forward in the legal definition of contemporary forms of racism. In addition, the text recognizes as discriminatory actions that take place in both the public and private sphere, and specifies that common discriminatory practices should be prohibited, such as the restriction of access to public places and the limitation of access to or sustainable use of natural resources, ecosystems, and ecological services."

“The racial disparities that persist in the region are not anywhere near the threshold of equality. Discrimination and discriminatory practices often degenerate into patterns in which human rights are violated, especially the rights to equality and dignity. The Convention represents an opportunity to combat the manifestations of discrimination and promote egalitarian societies,” said Margarette Macaulay, the IACHR Rapporteur for the Rights of Persons of African Descent and against Racial Discrimination, during the  ratification ceremony.

Eleven states have signed the Inter-American Convention Against Racism.  The Inter-American Commission urges the other States in the region to take the necessary measures to ratify the Convention, to demonstrate their commitment to combat racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance and to ensure its the Convention's entry into force in the near future. Only two ratifications are necessary for the Convention to take effect.

(cgb) 

 

August 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

ABA Section of International Law Americas Forum in Colombia

Colombia MapSave the Date! The American Bar Association Section of International Law will hold its 2016 Americas Forum in Bogota, Colombia from November 14-16, 2016.

(mew)

 

 

 

August 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do Any U.S. Law Schools Offer Joint Degree Programs with Law Schools in Europe?

A question for our blog readers: Do any of you know if any U.S. law schools offer a joint degree program with a law school in Europe that would allow graduates to have a Juris Doctor as well as the foreign equivalent, making them potentially eligible to practice in the United States (after taking the bar exam), the other country, and the whole of the EU? Please let us know in the comment section!

(mew)

August 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

AALS 2017 Annual Meeting

Early bird registration is now open for the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools in San Francisco in January. Visit http://www.aals.org/am2017/registration/ for more information and to see the full dance card of events.

(mew)

August 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Singapore Blogger Goes on Trial Today

Concerned over increased criminalization of expression, a United Nations human rights expert this week expressed serious concern about the upcoming trial of a 17-year old Singaporean for Facebook posts and blog comments that wounded the religious feelings of Muslims and Christians.

The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, warned in a press release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), that: “First, the trial concerns an expression that is lawful under international human rights law, and second, the person being tried is considered a child under international human rights law.”

The blogger’s trial is scheduled for 17 August. If convicted, he may face up to three years in jail. Last year, this same blogger was sentenced to four weeks in prison for posting a video that caricatured Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew.

“Tolerance and the rights of others are legitimate aims for any State to pursue,” the UN expert said. “However, the criminalization of a broad range of legitimate, even if offensive, expression is not the right tool for this purpose, and may well have the opposite effect.”

Noting that the teenager’s trial was one of several cases in Singapore, he pointed out that it reflected a widening crackdown – not only on controversial expression but also political criticism and dissent.

“International human rights law allows only serious and extreme instances of incitement to hatred to be prohibited as criminal offences, not other forms of expression, even if they are offensive, disturbing or shocking,” Mr. Kaye stressed.

In May, human rights lawyer Teo Soh Lung and blogger Roy Ngerng were investigated for allegedly breaching the Parliamentary Elections Act by posting, on their private Facebook pages, comments regarding government transparency and accountability.

While the Act prohibits campaigning in the last 24 hours prior to elections, it explicitly exempts the online expression of a private individual’s political views. The press release indicated that this was the first time individuals were investigated under such provisions.

“Threats of criminal action and lawsuits contribute to a culture of self-censorship, and hinder the development of an open and pluralistic environment where all forms of ideas and opinions should be debated and rebutted openly,” emphasized the UN expert.

Despite invoking the Parliamentary Elections Act to investigate, search and confiscate the personal belongings of Teo Soh Lung and Roy Ngerng, no charges have, to date, been brought against them.

“States are under an obligation not only to respect and protect, but also to promote freedom of expression. Increased criminalization of expression is in breach of this obligation,” concluded Mr. Kaye.

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

August 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Attack on Grieving Lawyers and Mourners in Pakistan, Following the Murder of a Former President of the Baluchistan Bar Association

The Union Internationale des Avocats (International Association of Lawyers - UIA) issued a statement deploring the targeted bombing attack on August 8, 2016 at a hospital in Quetta, in the Baluchistan province of Pakistan, which killed at least 70 people and wounded at least 112 others. The attack, for which a Taliban faction has claimed responsibility, targeted a grieving crowd that had gathered to mourn the loss of Bilal Anwar Kasi, the former President of the Baluchistan Bar Association, who had been shot and killed earlier in the day.

The UIA is deeply shocked by this atrocious attack and extends its sincere condolences to all the victims and their families. The UIA wishes to express its solidarity with the entire Pakistani legal community and, in particular, the Baluchistan Bar Association.

All necessary and appropriate steps should be taken to bring those responsible to justice, in accordance with international legal standards, ensuring the full respect of the Rule of Law.

The UIA also urges the Pakistani authorities to ensure that the investigation into Mr. Anwar Kasi’s murder is conducted independently and impartially.

As the legal community appears to have been targeted, the UIA is deeply concerned about this serious threat to the practice of law. The UIA reminds the Pakistani authorities of their responsibility to ensure the safety of lawyers and legal professionals, who are essential for protecting Human Rights and upholding the Rule of Law in a democratic society.

Adapted from a UIA press release.

(mew)

August 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Public Meeting on the Enforcement of Conciliated Settlement Agreements

The Office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for Private International Law, U.S. Department of State, announced a public meeting to discuss ongoing work in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on the enforcement of conciliated settlement agreements. The public meeting will take place on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. EDT.

In 2014, the United States proposed that UNCITRAL develop a convention on the enforcement of conciliated settlement agreements that resolve international commercial disputes. See A/CN.9/822, available at http://www.uncitral.org/uncitral/commission/sessions/47th.html. In 2015, UNCITRAL decided that its Working Group II should begin work on the topic. The Working Group discussed the topic at its September 2015 and February 2016 sessions, and will do so again at its September 2016 session. Documents for Working Group II are available at http://www.uncitral.org/uncitral/en/commission/working_groups/2Arbitration.html.

The purpose of the public meeting is to obtain the views of concerned stakeholders on the instrument being
developed by UNCITRAL. Those who cannot attend but wish to comment are welcome to do so by email to Tim
Schnabel at SchnabelTR@state.gov.

The meeting will take place from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at 2430 E Street NW (South Building, SA–4A), Room 240, Washington, DC. Participants should arrive at the Navy Hill/Potomac Annex gate at 23rd and D Streets NW before 9:40 a.m. for visitor screening, and will be escorted to the South Building. If you cannot attend the public meeting and would like to participate from a remote location, teleconferencing will be available.

This meeting is open to the public, subject to the capacity of the meeting room. Access to the building is strictly controlled. For pre-clearance purposes, those planning to attend should email pil@state.gov, providing full name, address, date of birth, citizenship, driver’s license or passport number, and email address. This information will greatly facilitate entry into the building. A member of the public needing reasonable accommodation should email pil@state.gov not later than August 17, 2016.
Requests made after that date will be considered, but might not be able to be fulfilled.

If you would like to participate by telephone, please email pil@state.gov to obtain the call-in number and other information. We ask that each person who intends to participate by telephone notify us directly so that we may ensure that we have adequate dial-in capacity.

 

August 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anti-Trump Super PAC Filing U.S. Customs and Border Protection Complaint Against Melania Trump

The Democratic Coalition Against Trump announced today that it is filing paperwork requesting an immediate and thorough investigation by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to determine whether Melania Trump, wife of the Republican nominee for President of the United States, violated U.S. immigration laws. The move comes after numerous media stories have called into question whether Mrs. Trump entered the United States legally and whether she illegally held employment while in the United States on a visa for non-working visitors.

Last week, the Coalition announced that it would file a request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to bring the truth about Mrs. Trump’s immigration status into public view. This latest move is intended to ensure that the public can find out, before the November election, whether Mr. Trump and his wife have violated our nation’s immigration laws.

“Donald Trump has been very vocal about his proposal to forcefully deport more than 12 million undocumented immigrants from our country,” said Scott Dworkin, Senior Advisor to the super PAC. “But ever since serious questions first arose about whether his own wife may have been an illegal immigrant, the reality TV star has been uncharacteristically tight-lipped. We’re filing this complaint because we believe that the public has the right to know if the Republican presidential nominee is a complete hypocrite.”

Adapted from a DCAT Press Release

(mew)

 

 

August 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Video of Detention Center in Australia Shows Abuse of Children

The United Nations human rights office said it was shocked by video footage that has emerged from Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory in Australia, showing children as young as 10 years old – many of whom are Aboriginal children – being held in inhumane conditions and treated cruelly. “Some children were held in isolation for extended periods, sometimes for several weeks, in hot and dark cells with no access to fresh air or running water. In one incident, six children were tear-gassed by prison guards,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN Higher Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The videos, from 2014, show another child hooded and strapped to a chair for several hours. Others are shown being repeatedly assaulted and stripped naked. According to the children’s testimony, the abuses took place over several years. Most of the children who were held at the detention facility are deeply traumatized, the spokesperson said.

Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that “every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age.”

Mr. Colville noted that the announcement by the Government of Australia of an investigation into youth detention in the Northern Territory is an “important step.” In that regard, he encouraged the Government to extend the scope of the investigation beyond the Northern Territory to establish that such treatment is not occurring in any other place of detention in the country. “We call on the authorities to identify those who committed abuses against the children and to hold them responsible for such acts. The children who were abused at Don Dale should receive psychosocial rehabilitation to overcome the trauma they have suffered,” the spokesperson said, stressing that compensation should also be provided. He also called on Australia to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

“This important instrument focuses on the prevention of torture. Under the Protocol, Australia would establish a National Preventive Mechanism which conducts regular visits to all places of detention in the country,” Mr. Colville said.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

August 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Concern Over Prison Sentences Given to Opposition Party Members in The Gambia

The United Nations human rights office has expressed concern over the three-year prison sentences handed down to 30 members of the main opposition party in Gambia, including its leader Ousainou Darboe, following their participation in peaceful protests in mid-April.

“We also remain deeply concerned that there has yet to be an impartial, independent and thorough investigation into allegations of excessive use of force in the context of the demonstrations, and into the arrest and death in State custody of the former secretary of the party,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

On 20 July, the Banjul High Court convicted 19 members of the United Democratic Party (UDP) for unlawful assembly, rioting, incitement to violence, “riotously interfering with vehicles,” holding a procession without a permit, disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession and conspiracy. On 21 July, the Mansakonko High Court convicted another 11 UDP members for the same offences. All those convicted were arrested either on 14 April during a protest for electoral reforms or on 16 April during a demonstration held after the arrest and alleged death in State custody of UDP Secretary Solo Sandeng two days earlier, Mr. Colville said.

“We have serious concerns about reported violations of the right to a fair trial. Defence lawyers have said that access to their clients was repeatedly hampered, that the arrests were politically motivated and that due process guarantees were not respected,” the spokesperson said.

On 8 June, defence lawyers walked out of the courtroom and decided not to take part in further proceedings as the court rejected their applications, including one requesting the Supreme Court to decide on the constitutionality of the proceedings. The trial continued with the accused unrepresented in court, according to Mr. Colville. “We urge the authorities to investigate all allegations of excessive use of force in the context of the April demonstrations, as well as allegations that some of those arrested were tortured and denied access to medical care,” he said.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

August 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Impunity for Killings ‘Remains Rampant’ in Ukraine Conflict

A new report by the United Nations human rights office released this month describes widespread killings that have taken place in Ukraine since January 2014, concluding that very limited accountability has taken place. The report, which was prepared by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, stated that the armed conflict in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, “accounts for the majority of violations of the right to life in Ukraine over the last two years,” claiming up to 2,000 civilian lives, with nearly 90 per cent of conflict-related civilian deaths resulting from indiscriminate shelling of residential areas.

More than 9,300 people have been killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the separatist conflict in eastern regions of the country in mid-April 2014. The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission was deployed by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to the country in March 2014 upon the invitation of the Government of Ukraine.

Covering the period from January 2014 to May 2016, the report states that the killings are being According to the report, the killings are being “fuelled by the inflow of foreign fighters and weapons from the Russian Federation.” It concluded that no responsibility has been taken for any civilian deaths caused by the conduct of hostilities, and that some of the killings may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Click here to read more about the report.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

(mew)

August 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent Illegal Fishing Entered into Force in June

An international agreement aimed at tackling illegal fishing “marks the dawn of a new era,” but rapid action is needed to ensure that its implementation is effective, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said. “Generations to come will recognize the importance of this achievement, your achievement,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva at an event held to celebrate the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which went into force on 5 June.

The treaty was adopted as an FAO agreement in 2009 after a years-long diplomatic effort, and is the first-ever binding international accord that focuses specifically on illicit fishing. More than 30 nations, as well the European Union on behalf of its 28 members, have acceded to the treaty. The treaty requires foreign vessels to submit to inspections at any port of call and for port states to share information on violations. An improvement on prior rules requiring countries to control the activities of their own fishing fleets, the new agreement is designed to raise the cost of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as it blocks improperly caught fish from being brought to land and entering markets.

At the event, the FAO Director-General acknowledged that implementation of the agreement may prove challenging for some nations – especially developing and small island States – due to resource and capacity constraints.

The agreement has an article that explicitly enjoins parties to the treaty and international organizations to provide assistance and funding. The Republic of Korea has already confirmed it will make a financial contribution, and other parties should follow suit, Mr. Graziano da Silva said. In addition, FAO has set up an inter-regional Technical Cooperation Programme and a Global Capacity Development Umbrella Programme to support logistical, legislative and legal aspects of translating the agreement into practice.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

 

August 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Olympic Opening Ceremonies Will Include a Team of Refugees

During the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, you may see a team of ten refugees marching into the stadium as a team with no nation and no flag. This is the first time a team of refugees has been formed. We wish these brave athletes well in the coming days. Let's hope that this is not just a first time there's a need to form such a team, but the only time.

(mew)

August 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Afghanistan Becomes 164th Member of WTO

WTOThe World Trade Organization (WTO) welcomed Afghanistan as its 164th member today, making it the 9th Least Developed Country to join the WTO.  It took Afghanistan nearly 12 years of accession negotiations to complete the process. Afghanistan also accepted the relatively new Trade Facilitation Agreement, becoming the 90th WTO Member to do so.

19 other governments are currently negotiating terms of accession with the WTO. The list of those countries may be found here.

For more information regarding Afghanistan's accession, see this WTO press release.

(cgb) 

July 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)