US, Russia resolutions on chemical weapons use in Douma vetoed

The UN Security Council in session in New York. (Courtesy UN)
Updated 10 April 2018

US, Russia resolutions on chemical weapons use in Douma vetoed

  • Russian ambassador: “Moscow’s veto was in the interest of peace and security in the world.”

New York: Russia has vetoed the US draft resolution calling to investigate and condemn the Syrian regime for bombing Douma near Damascus with chemical weapons. The Russian veto buried one of three resolutions on the chemical weapons use in Syria that the council is due to vote on Tuesday. The Russian drafted resolution was also vetoed. Seven members of Security Council voted against the russian tabled resolution while two nations abstained.  Nikki Haley, the US permanent representative at the UN, slammed Russia for "its inclination to protect one person in Syria", referring to the Syrian President Bashar Assad. Haley said that Russia's act will be recorded in history as it is the twelfth time Russia used its right to veto draft resolutions on Syria since the beginning of the trouble in Syria seven years ago. Haley added: "Russia is obstructing any international steps on Syria at the Security Council."
A previous UN-mandated inquiry was shut down in November when Russia vetoed an extension of its mandate, slamming the investigation as flawed. The French representative at the UN said ahead of the vote: “We cannot sit idle once chemical weapons have been used in Douma close to Damascus.” 
He added that “in light of the seriousness of the abhorrant crimes committed we will not accept a smokescreen or window dressing.” The French ambassador added that “the credibility of the Security Council is at stake” if the council vetoes the resolution proposed. 
Russia did not wait long before announcing its clear intention to veto the US co-authored resolution. The Russian ambassador said: “Moscow’s veto was in the interest of peace and security in the world.” He added that Washington intends to use the resolution as a cover for its military intervention in Syria.  
US President Donald Trump on Monday warned of a quick, forceful response once responsibility for a suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma on Saturday was established, thrusting Syria’s conflict back to the forefront of international concern.
A resolution at the Security Council needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, France, Britain or the United States to pass. A veto can only be cast if a draft wins at least nine votes.
The key difference between the two drafts is that the US one would mandate an inquiry to lay blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, while the Russian draft would require investigators to report to the Security Council, which would then attribute responsibility.
Russia also asked the council to vote on a second new draft resolution on Tuesday that would specifically support sending investigators from the global chemical weapons watchdog to the site of an alleged deadly attack last Saturday.
“US, UK and France can prove they want to establish truth by supporting this move,” Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy posted on Twitter on Tuesday.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on Tuesday that inspectors would travel to the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma to investigate reports of the attack that killed as many as 60 people.
The Syrian government and Russia said there was no evidence that a gas attack had taken place and the claim was bogus.


Amnesty slams Qatar tracing app for exposing data of a million users

Updated 33 min 29 sec ago

Amnesty slams Qatar tracing app for exposing data of a million users

  • Glitch made users’ ID numbers, location, infection status vulnerable to hackers
  • More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for

DOHA: A security flaw in Qatar’s controversial mandatory coronavirus contact tracing app exposed sensitive information of more than one million users, rights group Amnesty International warned Tuesday.
The glitch, which was fixed on Friday after being flagged by Amnesty a day earlier, made users’ ID numbers, location and infection status vulnerable to hackers.
Privacy concerns over the app, which became mandatory for residents and citizens on pain of prison from Friday, had already prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions.
Users and experts had criticized the array of permissions required to install the app including access to files on Android devices, as well as allowing the software to make unprompted phone calls.
Despite insisting the unprecedented access was necessary for the system to work, officials said they would address privacy concerns and issued reworked software over the weekend.
“Amnesty International’s Security Lab was able to access sensitive information, including people’s name, health status and the GPS coordinates of a user’s designated confinement location, as the central server did not have security measures in place to protect this data,” the rights group said in a statement.
“While Amnesty International recognizes the efforts and actions taken by the government of Qatar to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures introduced to date, such as access to free health care, all measures must be in line with human rights standards.”
More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for the respiratory disease — 1.7 percent of the population — and 28 people have died.
Like other countries, Qatar has turned to mobiles to trace people’s movements and track who they come into contact with, allowing officials to monitor coronavirus infections and flag possible contagion.
“The Ehteraz app’s user privacy and platform security are of the utmost importance,” Qatar’s health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“A comprehensive update of the app was rolled out on Sunday May 24 with expanded security and privacy features for all users.”
But Etheraz, which means “Precaution,” continues to allow real-time location tracking of users by authorities at any time, Amnesty said.
“It was a huge security weakness and a fundamental flaw in Qatar’s contact tracing app that malicious attackers could have easily exploited,” said Claudio Guarnieri, head of the group’s security lab.
“The Qatari authorities must reverse the decision to make use of the app mandatory,” he said.