Europe 

Kosovo: Expectations high following elections, UN envoy tells Security Council

Zahir Tanin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, reported on the results of the 14 February legislative election, where the winning party, Vetëvendosje, received more than half the vote, amid high turnout.   SRSG Tanin at #UNSC: “The voters in #Kosovo raised their voices for breaking with the past, and I hope that the members of this Council will add their clear support for the realisation of a more peaceful, more prosperous future in Kosovo and the region.” — UNMIK (UN Mission in Kosovo) (@UNMIKosovo) April 13, 2021 “The expectations expressed…

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Europe 

End police brutality and impunity in Belarus, rights experts urge

Last week, 176 people were detained during peaceful protests commemorating Freedom Day on 25 March, an unofficial holiday, they reported, and seven journalists were among more than 240 people apprehended days later.  Mass protests and demonstrations have continued since last August’s disputed presidential election returned Alexander Lukashenko to power. Last week, the Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning abuses of fundamental freedoms and multiple rights violations.   Silencing all dissent  The experts said in a statement that they were alarmed at the high number of alleged arbitrary arrests and…

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Europe 

COVID-19 vaccine rollout ‘unacceptably slow’ in Europe, WHO warns

Most countries saw a rise in coronavirus transmission last week, with 1.6 million new cases and nearly 24 000 deaths, the UN office has reported.    My message to governments in the Region is therefore that now is not the time to relax measures. We can’t afford not to heed the danger. We have all made sacrifices, but we cannot let exhaustion win. https://t.co/hfjMGViidu — Hans Kluge (@hans_kluge) April 1, 2021 “Vaccines present our best way out of this pandemic. Not only do they work, they are also highly effective…

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Europe 

Vintage French rugby pros tackle refugee integration in the vineyards

In his former life, in Syria, Hussam worked as a journalist, and was an elite athlete. “I was the Syrian kickboxing champion three times”, he says. However, the conflict in the country put paid to his professional and sporting ambitions. “I was shot in the chest, and after that I stopped taking part in sports”. Forced to leave , Hussam sought refuge in France, where he found employment in the vineyards of the Bordeaux region, working as a seasonal worker at Château Pédesclaux, which produces Pauillac, one of the famous…

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Europe 

Turkey’s withdrawal from women’s protection treaty, ‘worrying step backwards’

“This decision…sends a dangerous message that violence against women is not important, with the risk of encouraging perpetrators and weakening measures to prevent it”, said Dubravka Šimonović, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women.  She noted that it will only weaken laws which provide women protection and helps keep them safe, “and leaves them at further risk at a time when violence against women is surging all over the world”.   The Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention is the most recent international instrument that helps provide a roadmap for the…

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Europe 

UN agencies urge Turkey not to abandon international accord protecting women

Dubbed the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, is the “first and most comprehensive” international treaty specifically addressing these issues, UN agencies said in a statement.  “We are concerned that Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention would undermine the significant efforts invested so far to prevent and combat violence against women and may hinder progress towards further strengthening of national legislative, policy and institutional frameworks”, they said.  Violence against women is a particular concern in Turkey, with the latest…

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Europe 

Russia responsible for Navalny poisoning, rights experts say

Special Rapporteurs Agnès Callamard and Irene Khan believe the politician was poisoned to send a “clear, sinister warning” to anyone wanting to criticize the Government.  Mr. Navalny fell violently ill on a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow last August. He was later flown to Germany where toxicology reports determined he had been poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. On returning to Moscow last month, he was imprisoned for violating a sentence for alleged embezzlement.  “It is our conclusion that Russia is responsible for the attempted arbitrary killing of Mr. Navalny”, said Ms. Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, speaking during a press conference in Geneva.  Part of…

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Europe 

Belarus human rights situation deteriorating further, warns UN rights chief

In comments to the Geneva forum on Thursday, the High Commissioner for Human Rights insisted that curbs on demonstrators had got worse since last August’s poll returned President Alexander Lukashenko to office. Those protests had led to “mass arbitrary arrests and detentions” of largely peaceful demonstrators, along with “hundreds of allegations of torture and ill-treatment”, Ms. Bachelet said, before noting that “not one of the hundreds of complaints for acts of torture and ill-treatment” had been investigated. The High Commissioner highlighted concerns about Government proposals which would reportedly “enable harsher punishments” for…

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Europe 

UN political affairs chief warns against ‘backsliding’ in Ukraine

Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo briefed ambassadors who met virtually to mark the fifth anniversary of a deal to end fighting between Ukraine Government forces and mostly pro-Russian separatists, known as the Minsk II agreement.  ‘No reason for complacency’  The ceasefire that came into force last July resulted from a summit held in December 2019 between France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, and was welcomed by the UN Secretary-General who had earlier appealed for a global ceasefire during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. DiCarlo described the truce as a welcome development, together with the…

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Europe 

Russia: UN rights office ‘deeply dismayed’ by Navalny sentencing

“We are deeply dismayed by the sentencing of Russian opposition figure Aleksei Navalny by a court in Moscow yesterday to imprisonment for allegedly violating the conditions of a 2014 suspended sentence in an embezzlement case that the European Court of Human Rights had in 2017, already unanimously found to be arbitrary, unfair and manifestly unreasonable”, Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement.  Prison term converted  Mr. Navalny was arrested in Moscow on Sunday after returning from Germany, where he had been recovering after allegedly being poisoned with a Cold War-era…

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