Human Rights 

Nelson Mandela: ‘Synonymous with the fight for justice and equality’

Affectionately known as Madiba, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the General Assembly meeting celebrating Nelson Mandela International Day – officially commemorated on Sunday – that he “embodied the highest aspirations of the United Nations and the human family”.    ‘Blurring the truth’  Hate speech and the denial of facts are becoming “mainstream in liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes alike”, Ms. Mohammed said, “blurring the truth, questioning science and undermining democratic institutions”.    She pointed to an alarming trend that “people with little or no knowledge of historical facts are infected by the virus of disinformation and distortion and embracing violent ideologies”.    And COVID-19 has intensified this, rolling back years of progress in the global fight against poverty and injustice, leaving the marginalized and disenfranchised suffering the most, and often being blamed for…

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Human Rights 

Lifesaving help needed for Venezuela cancer patients hit by US sanctions

“The lives of Venezuelan transplant patients who are stranded in foreign countries, as well as those waiting to travel abroad for live-saving operations are under threat,” the experts said. “A trip abroad for treatment has become the only hope for hundreds of critically ill patients.” The group of Special Rapporteurs said they had alerted the US Government, and other countries and entities with a stake in the situation, calling on them to “mitigate the unexpected consequences of sanctions, and reinstate treatment for people whose lives now are in danger.” Take…

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Human Rights 

Myanmar: ‘Brute force terror campaign’ targeting rights defenders, UN experts say

In a statement, Tom Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, and Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders highlighted credible reports of activists forced into hiding after having arrests warrants issued against them, under Section 505 (a) of the Penal Code. Their homes were raided, possessions seized, and family members threatened and harassed, they said, noting that many others who where unable to flee, have been arbitrarily arrested. Lawyers representing those detained after the coup have themselves been detained, as have journalists covering the protests, the statement added. Citizens…

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Human Rights 

Pegasus: Human rights-compliant laws needed to regulate spyware

“Various parts of the UN Human Rights system, including my own Office, have repeatedly raised serious concerns about the dangers of authorities using surveillance tools from a variety of sources supposed to promote public safety in order to hack the phones and computers of people conducting legitimate journalistic activities, monitoring human rights or expressing dissent or political opposition”, said High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet in a statement.  According to reports, the Pegasus data leak allegations which surfaced through a consortium of media organisations over the weekend, suggests widespread and continuing abuse of the software, which the manufacturers insist, is only intended for use against…

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Human Rights 

Call for ‘dignity, equality, justice and human rights’ rings out on Mandela Day 

“Each year, on this day, Nelson’s Mandela’s birthday, we pay tribute to this extraordinary man who embodied the highest aspirations of the United Nations and the human family”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message commemorating the 18 July celebration of South Africa’s first Black head of State.   Message true today  Affectionately known as Madiba, his calls for solidarity and an end to racism are particularly relevant today, as social cohesion around the world is under threat of division.   With hate speech on the rise and misinformation blurring the truth, questioning science and undermining democratic institutions, societies are becoming more polarized, said…

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Human Rights 

UN rights chief calls for prompt release of protestors held in Cuba

The massive protests began on Sunday and are the biggest in decades, with thousands taking to the streets across the Caribbean island nation to demand the lifting of economic measures which have restricted access to basic goods, including food, medicine and COVID-19 vaccines.  More than 100 people have been arrested, according to media reports.    Use of excessive force  UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said she was very concerned at the alleged use of excessive force against protestors, and the large number of arrests.  “It is particularly worrying that these…

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Human Rights 

Prison population surge triggers overcrowding, COVID casualties

Released ahead of Nelson Mandela International Day, celebrating perhaps the best known political prisoner of all time, the first global research data on prisons released by the UN, examines the long-term trends of incarceration.  A shocking surge  As the global population grew 21 per cent, between 2000 and 2019, the number of prisoners worldwide jumped by more than 25 per cent, according to the UNODC data.  By the end of this period, 11.7 million people had been incarcerated – a population comparable in size to countries such as Bolivia, Burundi, Belgium, or Tunisia.  And by the end of 2019, the latest year full data is available, there were around 152 prisoners for every 100,000 people.   Breaking down the numbers  While…

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Human Rights 

New UN report reveals impact of COVID on human trafficking

The study further assesses how frontline organizations responded to the challenges posed and continued to deliver essential services, despite restrictions across and within national borders. Online prey Meanwhile, traffickers took advantage of the global crisis, capitalizing on peoples’ loss of income and the increased amount of time both adults and children were spending online. “The pandemic has increased vulnerabilities to trafficking in persons while making trafficking even harder to detect and leaving victims struggling to obtain help and access to justice,” said UNODC Executive Director, Ghada Waly. “This study is an important…

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Human Rights 

Landmark gender equality forum concludes with concrete commitments, plan to advance parity by 2026 

Close to $40 billion was pledged in new investments, as well as ambitious policy and programme commitments from governments, civil society and others, to help fuel a new global five-year action plan to accelerate true gender parity, by 2026.   “The Generation Equality Forum marks a positive, historic shift in power and perspective”, said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women.  The Forum has been held at a critical moment, as the world assesses the disproportionate and damaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls.  Gender equality advocates took the opportunity to press for gender-responsive stimulus and recovery plans to ensure that women and girls are not left behind as the world re-builds.  Timely commitments   The $40 billion in investments represent a major step-change in resourcing for women’s…

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Human Rights 

Internet shutdowns now ‘entrenched’ in certain regions, rights council hears

Addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Special Rapporteur Clement Voule warned that shutdowns are now “lasting longer” and “becoming harder to detect”. The tactics were not limited to authoritarian regimes either, he insisted. “Shutdowns have been observed in long-established democracies and more recent democracies alike, in line with broader trends of democratic recession across the world,” the Special Rapporteur said. “In Latin America, for example, shutdowns were recorded only in Nicaragua and Venezuela as of 2018, but since then, Colombia, Cuba and Ecuador have reportedly adopted shutdowns in connection to mass…

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