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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Europe 

EU must place social justice ‘at its core’ to lift people out of poverty

Speaking at the end of an official visit to assess how EU institutions are operating, Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, warned the States that make up the 27-member bloc “should not fall into complacency”.  “Since the EU has experienced steady economic and employment growth until very recently, the only explanation for this failure is that the benefits have not been evenly distributed”, he said.   Living on the fringe  In 2019, one-in-five people risked poverty or social exclusion, according to the UN’s human rights agency,…

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Europe 

Asylum seekers subject to systematic pushbacks at Europe’s borders, says UNHCR

Amid “continuous” reports that some European States are restricting access to asylum, UNHCR urged governments to investigate and end the illegal practice. Unnamed States had returned people “after they have reached territory or territorial waters (and used) violence against them at borders”, said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs. More and more refugees and asylum seekers are being pushed back at Europe’s land and sea borders, violating international law. These practices must stop. The EU pact on migration and asylum must be embraced by EU member states. UNHCR’s statement…

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Europe 

US witnessed ‘echoes of the Holocaust’ during breach of the Capitol, says concentration camp survivor 

Born in Berlin in 1930, she was only three years old when Hitler came to power and the persecution of the Jews in Germany began.  Speaking at a virtual ceremony marking the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, Dr. Butter said the events that unfolded with the storming of the Capitol, showed that “democracy is vulnerable, and we cannot take anything for granted”.  “It is up to us, to the people, to preserve and protect our democratic institutions and our Constitution”, she stated, which…

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Europe 

Stand against antisemitism with the ‘utmost determination’ – German Chancellor Merkel

During the first Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, organized jointly by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the UN and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Angela Merkel added that antisemitism must be thwarted, “be it open or veiled, and against denial or diminishing of the Holocaust”.  “We honour the victims of the Holocaust by remembering them and by learning from their plight. That is our everlasting responsibility – for today’s and future generations”, she stated, in her video message to the powerful online event, translated…

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Europe 

UN refugee agency calls for ‘new chapter for refugee protection’ across Europe

Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UNHCR’s Representative for EU Affairs, also called for reform to be central during negotiations over a new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, and highlighted the importance of “an EU that saves lives, protects refugees in Europe and globally, and finds solutions to end forced displacement and build resilient societies is needed more than ever”.   To this end, the UN agency recommended that the EU Presidency propose predictable, principled and solidarity-focused measures for a rights-based and sustainable asylum system.   They also stressed the need to address root…

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Europe 

UN human rights expert ‘cautiously welcomes’ UK court’s refusal to extradite Julian Assange

In a news release on Tuesday, Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on torture, noted that such conditions would almost certainly cause Mr. Assange to commit suicide.  #UK: UN expert @NilsMelzer welcomes British court’s refusal to extradite Wikileaks founder #JulianAssange to US on basis that he would be exposed to “oppressive” conditions of imprisonment that would almost certainly cause him to commit suicide.Read 👉 https://t.co/oG2dMKMqBR — UN Special Procedures (@UN_SPExperts) January 5, 2021 “This ruling confirms my own assessment that, in the United States, Mr. Assange would be exposed to conditions…

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