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“When we protect human rights, we are tackling the root causes of terrorism," UN Secretary-General

Noting that at least 11,000 terrorist attacks occurred in more than 100 countries last year, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stressed on Thursday that “terrorism is fundamentally the denial and destruction of human rights.” Therefore, “when we protect human rights, we are tackling the root causes of terrorism. For the power of human rights to bond is stronger than the power of terrorism to devastate,” he said.

“Terrorism has been unfortunately with us in various forms across ages and continents,” Mr. Guterres said in a lecture on counter-terrorism and human rights at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. 

“But modern terrorism is being waged on an entirely different scale, and notably its geographic span. No country can claim to be immune,” he added. 

Last year, more than 25,000 people died and 33,000 injured in at least 11,000 terrorist attacks in more than 100 countries. 

In 2016, nearly three-quarters of all deaths caused by terrorism were in just five states: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria and Somalia. The global economic impact of terrorism is estimated to have reached $90 billion in 2015. That year, terrorism costs amounted to 17.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in Iraq and 16.8 per cent in Afghanistan. 

Recalling how the Magna Carta 800 years ago established the principle of the rule of law, the Secretary-General said that at its core, human rights are a true recognition of common humanity. 

“When we protect human rights, we are tackling the root causes of terrorism. For the power of human rights to bond is stronger than the power of terrorism to devastate,” he said.

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Please stop the executions: The death penalty has no place in the 21st century.

Please stop the executions.

The death penalty has no place in the 21st century.

The death penalty does little to serve victims or deter crime.

And even with meticulous respect for fair trials, there will always be a risk of miscarriage of justice.

This is an unacceptably high price.

The world is now moving in the right direction.

Ever more countries are abolishing the death penalty and establishing moratoria on its use. Some 170 States have either abolished it or stopped using it.

But at the same time, we are concerned by the trend of reversing long-standing moratoria on the death penalty, in cases related to terrorism.
Excerpts from the remarks by the UN Secretary-General at the Panel "Transparency and the death penalty" on World Day Against the Death Penalty

Read the full statement below:

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
--
Remarks at Panel on “Transparency and the death penalty”
New York, 10 October 2017

[as delivered]

I thank the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Member States who have co-sponsored this important event.

We are here to explore a very urgent and troubling human rights issue: the continued use of the death penalty, and the secrecy that surrounds it.

This is my first public statement as Secretary-General on the death penalty.

I want to make a plea to all States that continue this barbaric practice:

Please stop the executions.

The death penalty has no place in the 21st century.

I am proud to say that my country, Portugal, abolished capital punishment 150 years ago – one of the first countries to do so. As a matter of fact, I was told in school that we were the first country, but I don’t want to create any incident with any other country that claims … but this is indeed something I am very proud of.

The reasons were those that we call on today:

The death penalty does little to serve victims or deter crime.

And even with meticulous respect for fair trials, there will always be a risk of miscarriage of justice.

This is an unacceptably high price.

The world is now moving in the right direction.

Ever more countries are abolishing the death penalty and establishing moratoria on its use. Some 170 States have either abolished it or stopped using it.

Just last month, two African States – The Gambia and Madagascar – took major steps towards irreversible abolition of the death penalty. I welcome these developments and congratulate both governments for their principled stance.  

In 2016, executions worldwide were down 37 per cent from 2015.

Today just four countries are responsible for 87 per cent of all recorded executions.

But at the same time, we are concerned by the trend of reversing long-standing moratoria on the death penalty, in cases related to terrorism.

And those countries that do continue executions also have international obligations. In many cases, they are failing to meet them.

Transparency is a prerequisite to assess whether the death penalty is being carried out in compliance with international human rights standards.

It also honours the right of all people to know whether their family members are alive or dead, and the location of their remains.

But some governments conceal executions and enforce an elaborate system of secrecy to hide who is on death row, and why.

Others classify information on the death penalty as a state secret, making its release an act of treason.

Some limit the information that can be shared with defence lawyers, limiting their ability to appeal for clemency.

Still others grant anonymity to companies that provide the drugs used in executions, to shield them from negative publicity.

This lack of transparency shows a lack of respect for the human rights of those sentenced to death and to their families.

It also damages the administration of justice more generally.

Full and accurate data is vital to policy-makers, civil society and the general public. It is fundamental to the debate around the death penalty and its impact.

Secrecy around executions undermines that debate, and obstructs efforts to safeguard the right to life.

Today, on the World Day Against the Death Penalty, I reaffirm my opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances.

I invite all those states that have abolished the death penalty to support our call on the leaders of those that retain it, to establish an official moratorium, with a view to abolition as soon as possible.

I wish you a successful and thought-provoking discussion, and I thank you very much.

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Human rights violations indicate repressive policy of Venezuelan authorities – UN report

Extensive human rights violations and abuses have been committed in the wake of anti-Government protests in Venezuela and point to “the existence of a policy to repress political dissent and instill fear in the population to curb demonstrations,” a report by the United Nations human rights office has found.

“The policies pursued by the authorities in their response to the protests have been at the cost of Venezuelans' rights and freedoms,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in a news release issued today.

The report notes that the generalized and systematic use of excessive force during demonstrations and the arbitrary detention of protestors and perceived political opponents indicate that these were not the acts of isolated officials.

The report calls on the UN Human Rights Council to consider taking measures to prevent the human rights situation in Venezuela from worsening. Venezuela is currently a Council member.

Mass street demonstrations began in the country in April. Tensions between the Government and the opposition reached a new high about a month ago, when President Nicolás Maduro convened elections for the so-called Constituent Assembly, which could replace the current legislative body, the National Assembly.

The report indicates that of the 124 deaths linked to the protests being investigated by the Attorney General's Office as of 31 July, the security forces were reportedly responsible for 46 and pro-Government armed groups, known as armed colectivos, for 27. Responsibility for the remaining 51 deaths has not yet been determined.

[ read the full story ]


 Quick Facts form the Report:

venezuela reportaug17

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UN led consultations highlight the benefits of migrants

 Although the net benefits of migration far outweigh its costs, the public perception is often the opposite, a senior United Nations official pointed out today, as the latest round of consultations on a global compact for migration began in New York.

“Such public perceptions and attitudes negatively influence sound migration policy choices. This must be reversed so that policy is evidence-based and not perception-driven”

Louise Arbour
UN Special Representative for International Migration


The UN Special Representative for International Migration  said that policies responding to false perceptions reinforce the apparent validity of these erroneous stereotypes and make recourse to proper policies that much harder.

The consultation is the fourth in a series of six thematic consultations that will take place this year and feed into the drafting of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), expected to be adopted by UN Member States in 2018.

An outgrowth of the New York Declaration, adopted at a 2016 UN Summit on refugees and migrants, the Compact will be the first intergovernmental negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the UN, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a comprehensive manner.

The current consultation, conducted by representatives of Member States, UN agencies, civil society, migrants and diaspora, examines the challenges and opportunities in leveraging the economic and social contributions of migrants to countries of origin and destination.

Ms. Arbour pointed out that in 2016 migrants sent $429 billion to their countries of origin – one of their most tangible contributions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries.

read the full story at - http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57243#.WXZtAWLyuM8

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UN rights chief expresses concern over Venezuela ban on Attorney General from leaving the country

30 June 2017 – Amid the ongoing violence in Venezuela, the United Nations human rights office today expressed concern about a decision by the Supreme Court to null the appointment of the Attorney General, freeze her assets and ban her from leaving the country.

“We are concerned that the Supreme Court’s decisions appear to seek to strip her Office of its mandate and responsibilities as enshrined in the Venezuelan Constitution, and undermine the Office’s independence,” 

Rupert Colville
spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Venezuelan Supreme Court on 28 June decided to begin removal proceedings against Attorney General Luisa Ortega, freeze her assets and ban her from leaving the country. It also transferred some of the Attorney General’s, until now, exclusive functions to the Ombudsperson.

UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors stipulate that governments should ensure that prosecutors can do their jobs without intimidation, harassment or improper interference, among other things.

[read the full story] | [en español ]


VEmap 

 Learn more about Venezuela and Human Rights

 Derechos humanos y Venezuela

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UN rights chief decries ‘unacceptable attack’ on Al Jazeera and other media

30 June 2017 – The United Nations human rights chief today expressed strong concern about international demands that Qatar close down the Al Jazeera network and other affiliated media outlets as “extraordinary, unprecedented and clearly unreasonable.”

[testimonial author="Rupert Colville" title="spokesperson for High Commissioner for Human Rights" avatar="../images/2017/colvilleRupert.png"  icon="icon" ]

whether or not you watch it, like it, or agree with its editorial standpoints, Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English channels are legitimate, and have many millions of viewers.

[/testimonial]

Rupert Colville added that “the demand that they be summarily closed down is, in our view, an unacceptable attack on the right to freedom of expression and opinion.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in early June. The countries last week gave Qatar 10 days to comply with a list of demands to end the diplomatic showdown, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera.

[ read the full story ]

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UN envoy urges policies that reject ‘us vs. them’ migration tactics

8 May 2017 – A lack of trust leads to increased intolerance and xenophobia, the United Nations envoy on international migration told UN Member States told, calling on Governments to review and put in place effective migration policies that reject an “us vs. them” mentality between national and migrants.

“Migrants are not a burden. Even less so are they a threat. Properly managed, migration stands to benefit all,” Louise Arbour, the Special Representative for International Migration said in Geneva, kicking off the process to the first-ever global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, due to be adopted in 2018.

She urged Governments to ratify and implement all international and regional human right instruments and related conventions, so that their countries’ migration policies would be grounded in human right norms and standards.

“Success will rest in large part on your sustained engagement, in word and deed, to changing the optic by which we view migration, from a phenomenon currently feared by too many, to one that better reflects its overwhelmingly positive impact on society,” Ms. Arbour said.

The UN envoy was addressing the first informal session on the human rights of migrants, looking at their social inclusion and cohesion in societies, and the necessity to counter discrimination including racism, xenophobia and intolerance against migrants.

The two-day session opened today under the co-facilitation of Switzerland and Mexico. It is the first of six thematic discussions to be held between now and November, as consultations for the intergovernmental conference on international migration in 2018, of which Ms. Arbour is the Secretary-General.Leading up to the conference, the UN launched the Together initiative last year to change negative perception and attitudes towards refugees and migrants, and to strengthen the social contract between host countries and communities, and refugees and migrants. The initiative bolsters the work of the 2016 UN Summit to Address Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants and its outcome, the landmark New York Declaration.

In today’s session, Ms. Arbour noted that deep-seated attitudes of prejudice and xenophobia, which many of the world’s 245 million migrants often confront, is particularly felt by so-called “irregular migrants” who enter, stay or work in a country without the necessary authorization.

While such migrants may have constituted administrative offences, “they are not crimes per se against persons, property or national security. And while states retain the sovereign prerogative to order their removal, the very presence of such migrants under their jurisdiction places certain obligations on national authorities.”

These obligations include protections, which despite political commitments, are not implemented, and include access to services.

“Putting in place ‘firewalls’ between immigration enforcement and public services is an effective way to facilitate access to justice, housing, health care, education, social protection and social and labour services for migrants,” Ms. Arbour said.

She continued that the erroneous perception of an increased influx of irregular migration, combined with a lack of trust in state capacities to deal with such influxes has led to increased intolerance and rejection of migrants – particularly in communities that face poverty or discrimination themselves.


Louise Arbour - UN Special Representative for International Migration

Louise Arbour

UN Special Representative for International Migration


“Distrust grows between host communities and irregular migrants when an effective migration policy is not in place, devolving into an ‘us vs. them’ mentality between nationals and migrants,” 



Irregular migration by some people feeds xenophobic and racist attitudes against all migrants, creating a “downward spiral of hatred that risks becoming insurmountable.”

In contrast, facilitating access to legal avenues for migration and access to work would reduce the need for many to migrate through irregular channels, the UN envoy noted.

“Policies related to migrants must include the participation of all actors with a stake in the outcome,” she said, “including local governments, trade unions, employers’ organizations, national human rights bodies, private sector, recruitment agencies, security and justice service providers, civil society and youth organizations and migrants.”

The second information thematic discussion will be held next month in New York. It will address drivers of migration, such as climate change and human-made crises.

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Abuses by non-State actors no justification for rights violations by Governments – UN rights chief

1 May 2017 – Raising alarm over use of rhetoric by States that they can “solve problems” and find ways around lawful safeguards, the United Nations rights chief today urged vigilance to protect and promote human rights of everyone.
“The use of, or the creation of, some form of political fog to create confusion at times, even amounting to the depth charging of truth or parts of it, so that a government can pursue a particular line [is,] I think something […] to watch very carefully,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein at a press briefing in Geneva.

“Violations by non-State actors of human rights norms, of international law, do not, and should not serve as grounds for violations thereby by Government actors,” he underscored.

In his remarks, he expressed particular concern over the renewed state of emergency in Turkey and the human rights situation in the country.
According to reports, up to 150,000 civil servants have been suspended. Furthermore, there are reports that last week about 10,000 police officers were also suspended and some one thousand among them detained.
“With such a large number, it is highly unlikely that the suspensions and detentions will have met due process standards,” added Mr. Zeid.
“Yes, the terror attacks need to be tackled, but not at the expense of human rights, and I am very concerned about the renewed state of emergency which was undertaken in mid-April and the climate of fear in the country,” he underscored.

In the same vein, he also drew attention to the dangers confronting human rights defenders, journalists and civil society members in their lines of work.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights also spoke out against the impact of human rights violations on the lives of people and the resulting increased suffering.

“Human rights violations have also resulted in famines in Yemen and South Sudan and human rights deficits have exacerbated the impact of droughts in other places like Kenya, Somalia and northern Nigeria,” he said.

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World Press Freedom Day

 World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991. This in turn was a response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.

image005It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom - a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.

At a time described by some as critical for journalism, World Press Freedom Day 2017 will focus on why it is vital to strengthen free and quality journalism to enable the media to effectively contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16(link is external). Specifically, the interrelationships between freedom of expression, justice for all and the rule of law, peace, and inclusiveness will be explored.

[ read more ]

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10th ILO Caribbean Minister of Labour Meeting adopts its Conclusions

Kingston (ILO News) - Following two days of deliberation on realizing decent work under the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Ministers of Labour and other high-level representatives of the Ministries and Departments of Labour of the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, adopted their Conclusions  for action on key themes for the Caribbean growth, development and labour rights challenges:

  1. Elevating Decent Work to the national and regional policy level and the role of social partnership;
  2. Non-standard forms of employment;
  3. Harmonization of labour laws;
  4. Regional Initiative: Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour;
  5. Skilled Workforce for Sustainable Growth and Development;
  6. Improving productivity and competitiveness: the role of the labour management relations and transitioning to formality;
  7. Labour cooperation in the region.

“The objectives have been realized. You have defined a clear set of priorities and we as ILO depart with a much clearer understanding of the challenges, how to address them and what your expectations are” ...

  ILO Director-General, Mr Guy Ryder

 

 

 

ILO Director-General,congratulated  the delegations stating that he was encouraged by the assets constituents brought to the process and the “strength of the determination of Governments, Employers and Workers to come together to deal with the challenges. This is not a given in many parts of the world.” He was committed to make sure the distinctive nature of the Caribbean constituency forms part of the ILO global community. He expressed sincere appreciation to the host country Jamaica and all participants.

 

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