Europe 

Switzerland: Draft anti-terrorism law sets ‘dangerous precedent’, rights experts warn

The draft legislation, currently before the Swiss Parliament, expands the definition of terrorism and no longer requires the prospect of any crime at all, they said, in a plea for a last-minute reversal by legislators.  ‘Expansive’ definition of terrorism  Citing international standards, the experts defined terrorism as the intimidation or coercion of populations or governments through violence that causes death or serious injury, or the taking of hostages.  Under the bill, “terrorist activity” may encompass even lawful acts aimed at influencing or modifying the constitutional order, such as legitimate activities…

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Europe 

Belarus: Ensure ‘full respect’ for workers’ rights during protests, ILO urges President Lukashenko

According to ILO, six trade unionists were detained by the authorities after participating in peaceful protests and industrial action.  I wrote to the President of Belarus today to urge Mr. Lukashenko to prevent human rights violations and ensure full respect for workers’ rights and freedoms. I raised concern over the charges against six trade unionists detained during peaceful protests. https://t.co/0gZ7RKWKGQ — Guy Ryder (@GuyRyder) September 9, 2020 In a letter to President Lukashenko, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder urged the President to release and drop charges against those detained and called…

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Europe 

Greece: Devasting fire compounds overcrowding and COVID-19 challenges in refugee camp

Within a short span of time, three separate fires broke out at the Moria Reception and Identification Center (RIC) on the Greek island of Lesbos, according to local fire chief Konstantinos Theofilopoulos, who spoke to State television.  While initial reports suggested there were no fatalities, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that over 12,600 migrants and refugees have been displaced and 80 per cent of the facility – designed to house only around 3,000 – was destroyed. A large fire destroyed an asylum center in Moria on the island…

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Europe 

Khashoggi overturned verdict ‘parody of justice’ – independent UN rights expert

At a regular press briefing on Tuesday, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, (OHCHR), quoted Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, in saying, “They came at the end of a process which was neither fair nor just, or transparent”. #JamalKhashoggi: 1.The Saudi Prosecutor performed one more act today in this parody of justice. But these verdicts carry no legal or moral legitimacy. They came at the end of a process which was neither fair, nor just, or transparent. https://t.co/nt4n2CqS21 — Agnes Callamard…

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Europe 

Alleged poisoning of Russian opposition leader a ‘grave concern’, says chemical weapons watchdog

Mr. Navalny, a prominent anti-corruption activist, remains in a coma two weeks after falling violently ill during a flight from the town of Tomsk, in Siberia, to Moscow. He was later airlifted to Berlin for treatment, after Russian authorities allowed him to be moved.  The German government reported on Wednesday that toxicology tests conducted by a special military laboratory revealed he had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.   “Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, any poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is considered a use…

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Europe 

Belarus must stop torturing protesters and prevent enforced disappearances

Thousands have been detained in the eastern European country, where largely peaceful rallies to demand the resignation of longtime authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko – whose recent re-election to a sixth term opposition leaders believe was rigged – have prompted a heavy crackdown by security forces.  “We are extremely alarmed at the hundreds of allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in police custody”, the experts said, citing reports of 450 documented cases.  In a press release issued by the UN human rights office (OHCHR), the experts urged the authorities in Belarus…

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Europe 

UN agencies call for urgent disembarkation of hundreds of refugees and migrants rescued in Central Mediterranean

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR,  also underlined the need  for regional agreement on safe disembarkation amid the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced search and rescue capacity. “The humanitarian imperative of saving lives should not be penalized or stigmatized, especially in the absence of dedicated state-led efforts,” they said in a joint statement. IOM and UNHCR are calling for the immediate disembarkation of more than 400 rescued migrants and refugees in the Central Mediterranean. The lack of agreement on a disembarkation mechanism is not an…

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Europe 

Bosnia and Herzegovina should recognise sex crime survivors’ rights, say experts

Between 12,000 and 50,000 girls and women were raped by armed forces in the country from 1992 to 1995, according to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). One of those women, a Bosnian Croat identified only as S.H. to protect her privacy, was robbed and raped in the town of Prijedor, which was occupied at the time by Bosnian Serb forces. Filed away She reported the incident to police but did not obtain a copy of the official report and no investigation was opened. In…

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Europe 

Belarus crisis: Top UN official concerned over torture allegations

Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki, UN Resident Coordinator, has expressed serious concern over allegations of torture and other ill treatment of people, including minors, who were detained after demonstrations connected to elections held on 9 August. “Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are absolutely prohibited and can never be justified,” she said in a statement issued late last week. ‘Deeply troubling’ testimonies While welcoming the release of many detainees on Thursday, Ms. Kazana-Wisniowiecki said testimonies about their treatment in custody are “deeply troubling”, adding that “if confirmed, these reports would point…

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Europe 

UN chief: Belarusians must be able to exercise their ‘civil and political rights’

Following the announcement that authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko – who has ruled since 1994 – had a landslide victory in Sunday’s presidential election, largely peaceful protests erupted throughout country, prompting a heavy crackdown by the security forces. Later, women holding flowers dressed in white formed human chains throughout the capital of Minsk and other cities, protesting police brutality.  The UN chief said that Belarusians must be permitted to express their views peacefully “in accordance with the law” and that the authorities must “show restraint in responding to demonstrations”.  Moreover, he…

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