UN rights expert raps Israel for anti-Palestine policy

Michael Lynk. (Courtesy: ipolitics.ca)
Updated 21 March 2017
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UN rights expert raps Israel for anti-Palestine policy

GENEVA: A UN rights expert issued a blistering criticism of Israel’s policies on Monday, deepening a row over alleged anti-Israel bias within the UN following US pressure.
In a report, Michael Lynk, UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, charged Israel with “the subjugation of (Palestinians’) humanity” and intensifying a crackdown on human rights campaigners.
Lynk made the claims in a report presented to the UN rights council during the Geneva-based body’s mandated session on Israel, known as Agenda Item Seven.
Israel is the only country targeted with a dedicated rights council agenda item.
Israel and its supporters, notably in Washington, have repeatedly highlighted Agenda Item Seven as evidence of the council’s credibility gap, arguing it cannot be effective while disproportionately targeting Israel.
President Donald Trump’s administration has taken those concerns to the next level, with top diplomat Rex Tillerson publicly threatening to withdraw from the council over its “biased agenda item against Israel.”
The State Department blasted the council again Monday for holding its Israel debate and vowed in a statement “to vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item.”
Washington also boycotted Monday’s event that saw a group of majority Muslim nations repeatedly denounce Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
The European Union condemned the continuing loss of life on all sides but voiced concern that Lynk’s mandate and the Israel debate was one-sided.
Lynk’s scathing findings were issued days after UN official Rima Khalaf resigned over another report in which she accused Israel of being an “apartheid state.”


Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

Updated 23 April 2018
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Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases
  • The two countries have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwaiti police arrested two Filipinos for allegedly convincing housemaids to run away from their employers’ homes as the Philippines’ ambassador faced questions for comments about his embassy’s work in aiding abused workers, authorities said Sunday.
The arrests, reported by the state-run KUNA news agency, come as relations are tense between Kuwait and the Philippines, which sends many domestic laborers to the Gulf Arab emirate.
Already, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases, culminating in a February incident that saw a Filipino’s body discovered in a freezer at a Kuwait City apartment abandoned for more than a year.
KUNA said Sunday the two Filipinos acknowledged convincing the maids to leave. It wasn’t clear what law the two men were accused of breaking, though KUNA said the two “confessed to the crime in addition to other similar offenses that had been committed in various regions of the country.”
The arrests came after Kuwait summoned the Philippines ambassador over comments he made that were reported in local press about the embassy’s effort to rescue domestic workers who are abused by their employers. Ambassador Renato Villa was quoted as saying his embassy moves in to help the abused if Kuwaiti authorities fail to respond within 24 hours.
Villa’s office said he was unavailable for comment Sunday.
Duterte in January complained that cases of abuse reported by Filipino domestic workers “always” seem to be coming from Kuwait.
There have been prominent cases of abuse in the past, including an incident in December 2014 where a Kuwaiti’s pet lions fatally mauled a Filipino maid.
The Philippines banned workers entirely from Kuwait after the discovery of Joanna Demafelis’ body in a freeze in February. In late March, Lebanese officials said 40-year-old Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf confessed to killing the woman along with his Syrian wife, who remains at large. Authorities say Assaf faces a possible death sentence.
More than 260,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, many of them as housemaids. Kuwait and the Philippines have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there.
Philippine officials have demanded that housemaids be allowed to hold their passports and cellphones, which is normal for skilled workers like teachers and office workers. But many Kuwaiti employers seize their phones and passports.