Human Rights 

UN agencies uphold human rights considerations in COVID-19 data collection

Mobility data derived from phones, emails and social media, for example, can assist in both monitoring the spread of the virus and in implementing activities the UN is mandated to carry out, according to their joint statement issued on Thursday.  However, they warned that vast amounts of sensitive data, both personal and non-personal, can be collected through digital contact tracing and general health surveillance.  “This could have significant effects beyond the initial crisis response phase, including, if such measures are applied for purposes not directly or specifically related to the…

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Human Rights 

Mozambique Cabo Delgado violence is a ‘desperate’ situation, warns Bachelet

UN agencies have warned that civilians – and especially women and children – have endured dreadful human rights violations that include numerous attacks, kidnapping and reported beheadings by armed groups, who have also clashed with government forces. There are additional humanitarian concerns about Cabo Delgado as it is among the worst affected areas from COVID-19. “It is paramount that State authorities ensure the protection of civilians inside and outside the conflict-affected areas and that humanitarian agencies are guaranteed safe, unhindered access to deliver life-saving assistance and protection,” said rights chief, Michelle…

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Human Rights 

Reported Ethiopia massacre: UN rights chief warns of spiralling situation, war crimes 

Reacting to emerging details of mass killings involving scores of victims in the town of Mai-Kadra, Michelle Bachelet said that “if the Tigray national (and) regional forces and Ethiopian Government forces continue down the path they are on, there is a risk this situation will spiral totally out of control”.  This risked “heavy casualties and destruction, as well as mass displacement within Ethiopia itself and across borders”, her spokesperson, Rupert Colville, told journalists at a press briefing in Geneva.  Equally worrying were “ethnically and religiously motivated hate speech, incitement to violence”, arbitrary arrests, killings, mass displacement and destruction in various parts of the country, said senior UN prevention…

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Human Rights 

Yemen: Stricken oil tanker must be inspected to avoid environmental catastrophe, UN expert urges

Having been abandoned five years ago when its engine room flooded with seawater, the 44-year-old Safer super tanker currently holds some 1.1 million barrels of oil.  The vessel was abandoned off the coast of Yemen’s key port of Hudaydah, which has been under the control of Houthi militants, one side in the long-running civil conflict between the group formally known as Ansar Allah, and the internationally recognized Yemeni Government. The rapidly decaying vessel sprang a leak in late May.   Technical experts must be granted immediate access to an abandoned, rusting oil tanker…

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Human Rights 

Social media-based trafficking on the rise during coronavirus pandemic

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) said on Wednesday that women and girls continue to be the most common victims of trafficking across the world. “The global pandemic has revealed the urgent need to address the use of digital technology in and against trafficking”, said committee member Dalia Leinarte, who led drafting of the panel’s recommendations. “Combatting trafficking also entails discouraging the demand,” she added. Those behind the trafficking networks enjoy widespread impunity, despite national and international laws and policies designed to tackle the problem, the…

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Human Rights 

Independent UN experts decry COVID vaccine hoarding: ‘No one is secure until all of us are’  

“This pandemic, with its global scale and enormous human cost, with no clear end in sight, requires a concerted, human-rights based and courageous response from all States”, four UN experts together with members of a human rights working group said in a statement on universal access to vaccines.  Spiking ahead  Last month, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic would push between 88 and 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, potentially climbing to a total of 150 million during 2021.  And the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has…

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Human Rights 

UN rights experts call for release of Saudi activist championing women’s right to drive

In a statement underscoring the need for Ms. Al-Hathloul’s urgent release, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) stressed the importance of all women human rights defenders, saying that they “bring voices from the ground and invaluable insights”.  A case in point  Ms. Al-Hathloul had, for several years, been promoting women’s rights in her country, including campaigns calling for women to be allowed to drive and an end to male guardianship.    In February 2018, during its periodic reports on Saudi Arabia, she shared valuable input with CEDAW.   That May, the Saudi activist was arrested and detained on national security grounds, reportedly in circumstances that amounted to arbitrary arrest and detention. Her charges were in part based on her testimony to the…

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Human Rights 

Violence and bullying affect one in three students, education experts warn

The warning from UNESCO, the UN organization for education, science and culture, based on 2019 data, coincides with the first International Day against Violence and Bullying at School – Including Cyberbullying, on 5 November. “Recent attacks on schools in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Pakistan, and the assassination of teacher Samuel Paty in France, sadly underscore the critical issue of protecting our schools from all forms of violence,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, in a statement. ‘Neglected, minimised or ignored’ Tackling bullying is also key to the protection of students, Ms.…

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Human Rights 

Nigerians need justice, UN rights experts say, in call for inquiry into protestor killings

While excessive use of force during peaceful protests is always unacceptable, the 20 October shootings at Lekki toll plaza in Lagos were “especially disturbing because demonstrators were precisely calling for accountability for previous police brutality”, the experts said.  The fact that CCTV cameras and lights were apparently switched off shortly before soldiers opened fire indicates “a disturbing level of premeditation”, they added.  ‘Nigerians need justice’  “Since 2005, UN Special Rapporteurs have repeatedly raised the issue of police killings and impunity with the Nigerian government”, the eight experts said. “We have…

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Human Rights 

Vast majority of crimes against journalists yet to be resolved: UNESCO

According to the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity, a report by the Director-General of UNESCO, only 13 per cent of cases globally involving crimes against journalists were reported “as resolved”, in comparison to 12 per cent in 2019, and 11 per cent in 2018.  The biennial report also said that in 2018-19, a total of 156 killings of journalists were recorded worldwide, and over the past decade, a journalist was killed – on average – every four days. In 2018, 99 killings were recorded, while in 2019,…

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