Rebels free 2 Filipino hostages

Updated 04 February 2013
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Rebels free 2 Filipino hostages

MANILA: Abu Sayyaf gunmen have freed two Filipino crewmen of a Jordanian TV journalist who were kidnapped last year but Al-Qaeda-linked militants continued to hold the reporter and four other foreigners in a jungle where a fierce clash between the extremists and another rebel group erupted yesterday, officials said.
Police found frail-looking cameraman Ramel Vela and audio technician Roland Letriro late Saturday and brought them to a hospital in southern Sulu province, where they were kidnapped in June along with Jordanian Baker Abdulla Atyani, Sulu police chief Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra said.
Atyani is believed to be held by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in the jungles of Sulu’s mountainous Patikul town, about 950 km south of Manila.
“We’re so happy. We never thought we’d make it out alive,” a teary-eyed Vela said from his hospital bed, adding he and Letriro had not seen Atyani since the kidnappers separated them shortly after they were taken hostage.
Visibly thinner with overgrown hair and beards, the two were examined by doctors and given bread and water.
An unspecified amount was paid to secure their freedom, according to three security officials who have been monitoring the kidnappings. The three spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
Military officials say Abu Sayyaf militants had demanded 130 million pesos ($ 3.1 million) for the release of Atyani and his two crew members.


Murder of teenage Indian maid sparks calls for tougher laws urgently

Updated 9 min 44 sec ago
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Murder of teenage Indian maid sparks calls for tougher laws urgently

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The murder of a teenage maid in India triggered calls on Monday for the government to urgently pass laws to curb trafficking and update legislation that lets children work as domestic help.
Police said the 16-year-old girl from eastern Jharkhand state was strangled and her body chopped up and dumped in a drain earlier this month after she demanded a year's unpaid salary from the employment agency that hired her.
A man, who worked at the agency that brings girls from poor families in rural areas to work in Delhi, was arrested late last week, senior Delhi police officer Rajender Singh Sagar told reporters.
"How can we allow our little daughters to be brutally killed after trafficking and exploitation? Where is the rule of law?" Indian Nobel laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi said on Twitter.
The case has put the spotlight on the abuse of domestic servants in India where millions of people, including children trafficked from remote and impoverished states, toil for long hours in homes with little freedom or protection.
Satyarthi urged the government to pass India's new anti-trafficking bill, that was cleared by cabinet in February but has not been tabled in parliament yet, and called for the enactment of another bill to regulate employment agencies.
With stringent punishment for traffickers and quick relief for victims, campaigners believe the anti-trafficking law will result in more arrests and convictions.
About 60 percent of the more than 23,000 trafficking victims rescued in India in 2016 were children, government data shows.
Campaigners have blamed the dilution of the country's child labour act for more children being trafficked for domestic work.
India's parliament approved a controversial law in 2016 allowing children to work for family businesses, despite widespread concern that it would push more of them into labor.
Anti-trafficking charity Shakti Vahini demanded a rollback of amendments in the law and quick enactment of legislation to monitor unregulated employment agencies to stop them withholding salaries from workers or using violence against them.
"It is getting worse after the law was amended," Ravi Kant, founder of Shakti Vahini, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"There is no fear of law under the current child labour act."