Human Rights 

First Person: ‘people with disabilities are the greatest untapped resource on the planet’

I’ve been legally blind since elementary school, and lost all functional vision by my early thirties. My mother didn’t want me to go to a school for the blind, and was determined to keep me in the public school system: I used the low-vision technologies available at the time, as well as learning how to walk with a cane and read braille. I describe losing my sight as an inconvenience, nothing more! I’m married, I’m a father to three children, I’ve competed in martial arts, I ski, climb mountains and…

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Human Rights 

UN Committee urges end to impunity for enforced disappearances in Iraq

In issuing its findings, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances – a group of 10 independent experts that monitors States’ adherence to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance – also noted that revictimization prevails in these cases. The Committee called on Iraq to incorporate the offence of enforced disappearance into its domestic criminal legislation and to ensure that no person is held in secret detention. Legislation Delays To be sure, the Committee also welcomed that Iraq set up two fact-finding committees, in 2016 and 2018, to address…

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Human Rights 

UN rights experts condemn retaliatory arrests of activists in Egypt

The human rights activists, from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), were arrested “within days” of a meeting with 13 foreign ambassadors and diplomats on 3 November, according to the UN human rights office (OHCHR). They face terrorism and public security charges.  “It is absolutely abhorrent to retaliate against human rights defenders from one of Egypt’s last functioning human rights NGOs, simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression by discussing Egypt’s human rights situation,” the UN experts said in a statement on Friday.  “These arrests underline the…

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Human Rights 

‘Deplorable’ killing of Afro-Brazilian man shows need to address racism, discrimination

João Alberto Silveira Freitas was beaten to death by two private security guards outside a Carrefour supermarket in the southern city of Porto Alegre last Thursday, the eve of Black Consciousness Day in Brazil.  Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson with OHCHR in Geneva, described the attack as a “deplorable act” which should be condemned by everyone.  Structural racism and discrimination  Ms. Shamdasani said the incident was “an extreme but sadly all too common example of the violence suffered by Black people in Brazil”, and  “offers a stark illustration of the persistent…

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Human Rights 

UN expert calls for urgent action to end ‘pandemic of femicide and violence against women’ 

Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, marked on 25 November, Ms. Šimonović said the rise in femicides and violence was “taking the lives of women and girls everywhere” around the world, as the coronavirus continues to rage out of control.   ‘Femicide watches’   The UN Human Rights expert called on “all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or Femicide watches/observatories on violence against women”.  …

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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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