Myanmar has failed to protect Rohingya from atrocities: UN

Senegalese Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, attends a press conference of MINUSCA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic ) in Bangui, in this October 11, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2017
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Myanmar has failed to protect Rohingya from atrocities: UN

UNITED NATIONS: Myanmar’s government has failed to meet its international obligations and protect Rohingya Muslims from the atrocities taking place in Rakhine state, two UN special advisers said Wednesday.
The statement from the UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng, and the special adviser on the responsibility to protect, Ivan Simonovic, added the international response to the crisis was a failure.
“Despite warnings issued by us and by many other officials, the government of Myanmar has failed to meet its obligations under international law and primary responsibility to protect the Rohingya population from atrocity crimes,” said a joint statement.
“The international community has equally failed its responsibilities in this regard,” they added.
Since late August more than 500,000 Rohingya have fled an army campaign in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that the United Nations has denounced as ethnic cleansing.
The UN Security Council has called on Myanmar to end military operations in Rakhine, grant access to aid workers and allow the safe return of the Rohingya refugees.
The council however has not followed up its appeal with action such as imposing sanctions, a move diplomats said is opposed by China, a supporter of the Myanmar’s former junta, and Russia.
“Once again, our failure to stop atrocity crimes makes us complicit. When will we live up to our countless promises of ‘never again’?” the advisers asked.
Myanmar authorities argue the military operations in Rakhine are to root out militants following attacks on police posts in late August.
A recent report by the UN human rights office accused Myanmar of seeking to permanently expel the Rohingya, by planting land mines at the border with Bangladesh where the refugees are sheltering.
UN rights officials spoke to refugees who gave accounts of soldiers surrounding homes and firing indiscriminately as residents ran for their lives, and of uniformed men gang-raping women and girls, some as young as five.
“In some cases, before and during the attacks, megaphones were used to announce: ‘You do not belong here — go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you’,” the report said.
The UN’s top political affairs official, Jeffrey Feltman, returned on Tuesday from five days of talks in Myanmar that failed to yield a breakthrough.
Feltman is expected to report to the Security Council on his talks.


France immigration bill sows seeds of dissent in Macron party

Updated 19 April 2018
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France immigration bill sows seeds of dissent in Macron party

  • France's right-wing opposition say the bill is too soft but left-wing parties and NGOs have branded it repressive
  • France received a record 100,000 asylum applications last year, bucking the general trend in Europe, where the number of asylum seekers halved between 2016 and 2017

PARIS: The French parliament votes Friday on a tough immigration bill that has sparked rumblings of revolt within President Emmanuel Macron’s party, with several MPs openly challenging his plans to speed up deportations of failed asylum-seekers.
The government argues that tighter controls are needed to check the rise of anti-immigration populists, who are on the march across Europe from Berlin to Budapest after suffering a setback in last year’s French elections.
“I fear that if we do not resolve the problem facing us... others will do it without any humanity,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said earlier this month.
The bill aims to both cut waiting times for asylum applications — from around a year currently to six months — and make it easier to deport those turned down as “economic” migrants.
The right-wing opposition say the bill is too soft but left-wing parties and NGOs have branded it repressive.
“We cannot take on the misery of the world,” Macron, who campaigned as a champion of open borders but has adopted a tough line on migration since taking office, said in an interview with BFMTV on Sunday.
Macron pointed to the “ticking bomb” of population growth in Africa, wars and climate change among factors that would continue driving migration to Europe in the years to come.
Faced with an “unprecedented” wave of arrivals the government would focus on welcoming those whose lives were at risk in their country of origin, he said firmly.
France received a record 100,000 asylum applications last year, bucking the general trend in Europe, where the number of asylum seekers halved between 2016 and 2017.
A shortage of accommodation means many wind up on the streets of Paris, or the northern port of Calais, a gateway to Britain, where a squalid camp housing thousands of migrants was razed by the state in late 2016.
A February survey by pollsters BVA showed 63 percent of voters felt there were too many immigrants in France, home to around six million people who were born in another country.
On Monday, France’s human rights ombudsman Jacques Toubon slammed the “unacceptable conditions” facing around 1,000 migrants packed into a new tented camp along a canal in northeast Paris.
“We cannot remain on this path which is unworthy of France’s welcoming tradition and increasingly difficult for some of our fellow citizens,” Collomb, one of the more hawkish figures in Macron’s left-right administration, argued in parliament this week.
The bill doubles the time that failed asylum seekers can be detained to 90 days, making it easier to deport them.
It also reduces the time they have to lodge their application from 120 to 90 days and gives them just two weeks to appeal if unsuccessful, a period slammed by NGOs as far too short to gather more evidence in support of their claim.
Once accepted, however, refugees will be given more help to integrate, by, for instance, gaining the right to work and being given more French classes.
The government has defended the legislation as balanced but several members of Macron’s usually compliant Republic on the Move (LREM) party have vowed to reject the bill or abstain when it is put to a vote Friday.
“This bill stigmatizes foreigners,” Francois-Michel Lambert, a LREM lawmaker representing the southern Bouches-du-Rhone region, told BFMTV.
Delphine Bagarry, an MP representing Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, told France Inter radio that while she supports the need to shorten the agonizing wait for asylum, “it cannot be at the expense of their right to a defense.”
Fearing that any sign of weakness could embolden dissidents to break ranks on other issues, party leader Richard Ferrand has threatened LREM naysayers with expulsion.
But the bill is expected to pass, despite strong opposition from far-right leader Marine Le Pen — the runner-up to Macron in last year’s election — and the conservative opposition Republicans.
The Republicans’ hard-line leader Laurent Wauquiez charged that Macron’s presidency was on course to legalize “a million more immigrants” by 2022.
Right-wingers have also argued that provisions allowing underage refugees to bring siblings to live with them in France will have a “pull effect” on migration.