Saturday, May 21, 2022
The World Health Organization (WHO) is working closely with countries where cases of the rare viral disease monkeypox have been reported, the UN agency said on Friday. The UN agency said in a statement that there were around 80 cases confirmed so far, across 11 countries, with a further 50 cases pending investigation.
Monkeypox occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa, but outbreaks have emerged in other parts of the world in recent days. Symptoms include fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.
WHO said it was "working with the affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected, and to provide guidance on how to manage the disease." WHO stressed that monkeypox spreads differently from COVID-19, encouraging all people "to stay informed from reliable sources, such as national health authorities" on the extent of any outbreak in their own communities.
WHO said in an earlier news release at least eight countries are affected in Europe - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
No travel link
Hans Kluge, Europe Regional Director for WHO, said the cases are atypical, citing three reasons.
All but one, are not linked to travel to endemic countries. Many were detected through sexual health services and are among men who have sex with men. Furthermore, it is suspected that transmission may have been ongoing for some time, as the cases are geographically dispersed across Europe and beyond.
Most of the cases are so far mild, he added.
“Monkeypox is usually a self-limiting illness, and most of those infected will recover within a few weeks without treatment,” said Dr. Kluge. “However, the disease can be more severe, especially in young children, pregnant women, and individuals who are immunocompromised.”
Working to limit transmission
WHO is working with the concerned countries, including to determine the likely source of infection, how the virus is spreading, and how to limit further transmission.
Countries are also receiving guidance and support on surveillance, testing, infection prevention and control, clinical management, risk communication and community engagement.
Concern over summer uptick
Monkeypox virus is mostly transmitted to humans from wild animals such as rodents and primates. It is also spread between humans during close contact - through infected skin lesions, exhaled droplets or body fluids, including sexual contact - or through contact with contaminated materials such as bedding.
People suspected of having the disease should be checked and isolated.
“As we enter the summer season in the European Region, with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate, as the cases currently being detected are among those engaging in sexual activity, and the symptoms are unfamiliar to many,” said Dr. Kluge.
He added that handwashing, as well as other measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, are also critical to reduce transmission in healthcare settings.
Cases in other regions
Australia, Canada, and the United States are also among non-endemic countries that have reported cases of monkeypox.
The United States detected its first case for the year after a man in the northeastern state of Massachusetts tested positive on Tuesday following recent travel to Canada.
The US recorded two monkeypox cases in 2021, both related to travel from Nigeria.
Monday, May 16, 2022
Investigators probing allegations of war crimes in the Ukraine conflict must work closely together and in compliance with international standards of forensic best practice, the United Nations' expert on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions said on Monday [May 16, 2022].
Special Rapporteur Morris Tidball-Binz called on the international community to step up support for Ukraine’s own investigations, and welcomed progress made so far by the Office of the Prosecutor General in ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice.
He also commended the international community’s swift mobilization in establishing mechanisms and initiatives to collect, document and preserve evidence of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including unlawful killings, committed during the Russian invasion of the country.
Respect national ownership
Mr. Tidball-Binz said these mechanisms can play a key role in supporting the work of the Prosecutor General’s Office, as well as other “accountability frameworks” such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and national prosecutions by parties to the conflict and in States with universal jurisdiction.
“It is therefore of paramount importance that the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, which is leading the investigations in the country, receives all the support and resources necessary to ensure the adequate coordination of investigative efforts under its responsibility in Ukraine,” he said.
The rights expert stressed that “to achieve progress and deliver tangible results,” this support must respect national ownership of investigative efforts, if in line with relevant international norms and standards.
Proper coordination critical
He warned that without coordination, “there is a considerable risk of overlap and duplication to the detriment of the effectiveness and efficiency of investigations."
For example, the identification of deceased persons requires proper the collection, analysis, and matching of information, he said.
“Proper coordination can also prevent the re-traumatisation of victims and witnesses arising from being interviewed multiple times by different investigators, and ensure that interviews fit into the overall investigative strategy,” he added.
Furthermore, all investigations must conform to international standards, including the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.
“International law requires that investigations be prompt, effective, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent,” he added. “To this end, proper coordination and adequate data management are fundamental requisites, particularly in complex cases, such as those under investigation in Ukraine.”
Mr. Tidball-Binz, a medico-legal expert, explained that investigations of war crimes and crimes against humanity require multiple areas of expertise and specialised knowledge so that the high volume of sensitive and complex evidence can be adequately collected, documented and securely preserved.
Dignity for victims
Identification of human remains, and their dignified treatment, is paramount, and coordinating efforts is “absolutely essential,” he said, “for adequately resolving cases of enforced disappearances and preventing the dead from becoming missing persons.”
He again urged all stakeholders to comply with applicable international norms and standards, and to actively coordinate among themselves, not only to avoid duplication but also in the best interest of the victims.
The expert also underlined his readiness to assist and offer technical advice on these matters.
Role of UN Rapporteurs
Mr. Tidball-Binz was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council and is part of its Special Procedures mechanism, in which independent experts are given mandates to report on specific country situations or thematic areas.
He is not a UN staff member and does not receive a salary for his work.
Adapted from a UN Press Release.
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
The U.S. Department of Labor has renewed partnerships with the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to strengthen collaboration with their U.S. embassies and consulates, and to provide information about laws governing workplace safety and health, wages and work hours, and other employment issues individuals from these countries face while working in the United States.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su joined El Salvadorean Ambassador Milena Mayorga, Guatemalan Ambassador Alfonso Quiñónez and Honduran Chargé d’Affaires Javier Bú at a signing ceremony at the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, the department’s headquarters. They signed letters of arrangement with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Wage and Hour Division. They also signed partnerships with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the National Labor Relations Board.
“Our joint commitments with the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras ensure that people from these countries working here in the U.S. are aware of the protections our nation’s labor laws provide, including the right to a safe and healthy workplace, and the right to be paid for all their hard-earned wages,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary Labor Julie Su. “They should also know that they have the ability to exercise their labor rights freely and participate in our country’s strong economy.”
Partnerships like these help the department enforce U.S. labor laws more effectively, especially in high-risk and low-wage industries where violations are more likely to occur. They also help the department’s enforcement agencies identify problems workers face to improve and target their outreach efforts.
“Hispanic communities contribute to the economies of both America and their countries of origin,” said the El Salvadorean Ambassador Milena Mayorga. “That is why it is important to use a variety of resources to educate workers and employers about enforceable labor rights.”
“The government of Guatemala looks forward to its partnership with the Department of Labor on ensuring that Guatemalan migrants in the U.S. work in a safe and healthy environment, are aware of their rights and those are respected while in the U.S.,” said Guatemalan Ambassador Alfonso Quiñónez. “We hope that through these partnerships we can work together to foster positive and meaningful relationships between workers and employers, and continue building bridges between our peoples to create more prosperity for our countries.”
“The partnership we are renewing [this week] is a clear example of goodwill, joint commitment, and efficiency in design of protection mechanisms in favor of the working sector of the migrant population in the United States,” said Honduran Chargé d’Affaires Javier Bú. “The agreements that we sign today make this association operational and have a clear focus on articulating efforts and aligning resources to promote respect for the rights of Honduran workers in this great country; it is the right and just thing to do, and it means a well-deserved recognition of the effort and sacrifice of our fellow migrants.”
Adapted from U.S. Department of Labor Press Release 22-812-NAT
Saturday, May 7, 2022
The public hearings on the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by Germany in the case concerning Questions of Jurisdictional Immunities of the State and Measures of Constraint against State-Owned Property (Germany v. Italy), which had been due to take place on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 May 2022, have been cancelled.
The International Court of Justice took this decision after receiving in the Registry a letter from the Agent of Germany informing the Court that, following recent judicial developments in Italy and discussions between the representatives of the two Parties, “Germany withdraws its Request for the indication of provisional measures."
In his letter, the Agent refers, inter alia, to the adoption of Decree No. 36 of 30 April 2022, published in the Italian Gazette on the same day and which entered into force on 1 May 2022.Germany understands from the Decree that “Italian law requires Italian courts to lift measures of enforcement previously taken, and that no further measures of constraint will be taken by Italian courts against German property used for government non-commercial purposes located on Italian territory."
It is also stated in the letter that “Germany agrees with Italy that the Decree . . . addresses the central concern” expressed in the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by it.
Adaoted from a UN Press Release