UN rights council creates Afghanistan rapporteur

UN rights council creates Afghanistan rapporteur
Afghan girl sits with women wearing burqas outside a Kabul hospital. The EU won its battle at the UN Human Rights Council to create a new special rapporteur on Afghanistan. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 07 October 2021

UN rights council creates Afghanistan rapporteur

UN rights council creates Afghanistan rapporteur
  • The rapporteur will be responsible for monitoring the rights situation in the country following the Taliban takeover, and will make recommendations on improvements
  • “The actions of the Taliban directed against women and girls and the violation of their rights is highly worrying,” said the EU's ambassador to the UN in Geneva

GENEVA: The European Union on Thursday won its battle at the UN Human Rights Council to create a new special rapporteur on Afghanistan, despite opposition from China, Russia and Pakistan.
The rapporteur will be responsible for monitoring the rights situation in the country following the Taliban takeover, and will make recommendations on improvements.
“This is an essential step to ensure continued monitoring, through a dedicated and independent expert, and to help prevent a further deterioration of the human rights situation in Afghanistan,” said Lotte Knudsen, the EU’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.
“The rights of women and girls are of particular concern to us. The actions of the Taliban directed against women and girls and the violation of their rights is highly worrying.”
The resolution creating the 12-month post was tabled with backing from the United States and the envoy appointed by the former Afghan government before the Taliban seized power.
It was comfortably adopted by the 47-member council, the United Nations’ top rights body.
Twenty-eight countries voted in favor, 14 abstained and five voted against, with Venezuela and Eritrea joining Pakistan, Russia and China.
Before the vote, Beijing’s representative said the resolution had “serious defects,” adding: “The US and its allies are the initiators of the Afghan problem” caused by their military intervention and occupation for 20 years.
During the council’s August 24 special session on Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, some nations unsuccessfully tried to establish a mechanism to monitor the rights situation in the country.
Since taking power on August 15, the Taliban have tried to convince Afghans and the outside world that their regime will be less brutal than their 1996-2001 spell in control.
In recent weeks, the EU and UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet took up the cause again.
A European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters they had tried to make the resolution as consensual as possible.
“The amount of support is as important as the message” that the world is watching Afghanistan, the diplomat said.
The rapporteur is charged with following the developing human rights situation in Afghanistan and making recommendations to improve it.
The expert will also be tasked with helping the country to fulfil its human rights obligations and “offer support and advice to civil society.”
The resolution also calls for an “immediate end to all human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in Afghanistan.”
It also calls for respect for fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression.
The text condemns discrimination against women and girls, including forced marriages, and calls for an inclusive and representative government.
The rapporteur will submit a written report to the council within a year.
Amnesty International’s secretary general Agnes Callamard hoped it would be “a cornerstone in the quest for justice, truth and reparation for the people of Afghanistan,” given the gravity of the crisis engulfing the country.
John Fisher, the Geneva director of Human Rights Watch, said the rapporteur would bring “much-needed scrutiny to the rights crisis in Afghanistan” and “pave the way for a full investigative body to ensure that those responsible for violations and abuses are held to account.”

Related


Russia: Latest Zircon hypersonic missile test successful

Russia: Latest Zircon hypersonic missile test successful
Updated 29 November 2021

Russia: Latest Zircon hypersonic missile test successful

Russia: Latest Zircon hypersonic missile test successful
  • Russia, the United States, France and China have all been experimenting with so-called hypersonic glide vehicles
MOSCOW: Russia said Monday it had carried out another successful test of its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, as world powers race to develop the advanced weaponry.
Russia, the United States, France and China have all been experimenting with so-called hypersonic glide vehicles — defined as reaching speeds of at least Mach 5.
As part of “the completion of tests” of Russia’s hypersonic missile weapons, the Admiral Gorshkov warship launched a Zircon missile at a target in the Barents Sea at a range of 400 kilometers, the defense ministry said.
“The target was hit,” the ministry said, describing the test as successful.
The missile has undergone a number of recent tests, with Russia planning to equip both warships and submarines with the Zircon.
Putin revealed the development of the new weapon in a state of the nation address in February 2019, saying it could hit targets at sea and on land with a range of 1,000 kilometers and a speed of Mach 9.
Russia’s latest Zircon test came after Western reports that a Chinese hypersonic glider test flight in July culminated in the mid-flight firing of a missile at more than five times the speed of sound over the South China Sea.
Up until the test, none of the top powers had displayed comparable mastery of a mid-flight missile launch.
China denied the report, saying it was a routine test of a reusable space vehicle.
Russia has boasted of developing several weapons that circumvent existing defense systems, including the Sarmat intercontinental missiles and Burevestnik cruise missiles.
Western experts have linked a deadly blast at a test site in northern Russia in 2019 — which caused a sharp spike in local radiation levels — to the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile.

Couple caught fleeing Dutch COVID-19 quarantine moved to ‘forced isolation’

Couple caught fleeing Dutch COVID-19 quarantine moved to ‘forced isolation’
Updated 29 November 2021

Couple caught fleeing Dutch COVID-19 quarantine moved to ‘forced isolation’

Couple caught fleeing Dutch COVID-19 quarantine moved to ‘forced isolation’
  • Pair left the hotel where travelers who tested positive for the virus were staying after arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport from South Africa

AMSTERDAM: A couple caught trying to escape from COVID-19 quarantine in the Netherlands after testing positive for the coronavirus have been transferred to a hospital where they were being held in isolation, an official said on Monday.
The pair, a Spanish man and Portuguese woman, left the hotel where travelers who tested positive for the virus were staying after arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport from South Africa.
“They have now been transferred to a hospital elsewhere in the Netherlands to ensure they are in isolation. They are now in so-called forced isolation,” said Petra Faber, spokesperson for Haarlemmermeer municipality, where Schiphol is located just outside of the capital.
“We don’t know who tested positive for the new variant and we wouldn’t say because of privacy,” Faber said.
The couple fled the hotel on Sunday and had boarded a plane to Spain when they were detained by military police at the airport, said Faber. They were among 61 out of the more than 600 passengers who arrived on two flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town on Friday and tested positive for COVID-19.
At least 13 of those infected have the newly identified omicron variant of the virus, Dutch health authorities said on Sunday.
Security at the hotel has in the meantime been increased to ensure the quarantined guests stay in their rooms. It is being guarded by regular police and military police.
The discovery of omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year-old COVID-19 pandemic.
Dutch authorities are also seeking to contact and test some 5,000 other passengers who have traveled from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe.
In the Netherlands, tougher COVID-19 measures went into effect on Sunday to curb record daily infection rates of more than 20,000 and ease pressure on hospitals.


India’s parliament passes bill to repeal controversial farm laws

India’s parliament passes bill to repeal controversial farm laws
Updated 29 November 2021

India’s parliament passes bill to repeal controversial farm laws

India’s parliament passes bill to repeal controversial farm laws
  • Narendra Modi said this month his government would repeal the laws in the new session of parliament

NEW DELHI: India’s parliament on Monday passed a bill to repeal three laws aiming at deregulating agricultural markets, bowing to pressure from farmers who have protested for over a year to demand that the laws be rolled back.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration introduced the farm bills last year through an executive order, traditionally reserved for emergency legislation, triggering India’s longest-running farmers’ protest. Parliament then passed the legislation via a voice vote, drawing widespread criticism that it had rushed through the laws without proper debate.
In a bid to end the protests ahead of the state assembly election in India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state early next year, Modi said this month his government would repeal the laws in the new session of parliament.
As parliament reconvened for its winter session on Monday, both the lower and upper houses passed the bill to withdraw the laws meant to deregulate and open up agricultural markets to companies. Farmers have said the laws would leave them with scant bargaining power against big private purchasers.
The controversial laws saw tens of thousands of people, including many elderly growers and women farmers, brave extreme weather and a severe second wave of coronavirus infections to camp out on the outskirts of New Delhi over the past year.
In addition to their repeal demand, protesting farmers are also asking that Modi’s administration introduce a law to secure government prices for produces beyond just rice and wheat.
The government currently buys rice and wheat at state-set Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), but the subsidies only benefit about 6 percent of India’s millions of farmers.
Protesters are demanding MSPs for all crops – a move that has galvanized growers across the country and taken the protest beyond India’s grain-growing states of Punjab and Haryana.
The government has not yet made any comment on the protesters’ demand for MSPs.
Farmers celebrated the development but said the protest would only be called off when the government promised legislation on MSPs for all produce.


Greeks urged to evacuate Ethiopia

Greeks urged to evacuate Ethiopia
Updated 29 November 2021

Greeks urged to evacuate Ethiopia

Greeks urged to evacuate Ethiopia
  • Greeks who chose to remain should limit their movements, stock up on food, water and fuel, and stay in contact with the Greek embassy in Addis Ababa
  • The US, Canada and other nations have also told their citizens to leave the country amid fears that Tigrayan rebels could march on the capital

ATHENS: Greece’s foreign ministry on Monday urged Greek nationals to leave Ethiopia, warning that conditions in the war-torn country were becoming “increasingly unpredictable.”
“It is recommended to Greek nationals living in Ethiopia that they leave the country on available commercial flights as soon as possible,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said safety conditions in Ethiopia were “particularly fragile.”
It said Greeks who chose to remain should limit their movements, stock up on food, water and fuel, and stay in contact with the Greek embassy in Addis Ababa and the ministry’s crisis management team.
The US, Canada and other nations have also told their citizens to leave the country amid fears that Tigrayan rebels could march on the capital.
The war erupted in November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, sent troops into the Tigray region to topple its ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The civil war has left thousands dead and displaced more than two million people.


India steps ups COVID-19 testing for international flyers

India steps ups COVID-19 testing for international flyers
Updated 29 November 2021

India steps ups COVID-19 testing for international flyers

India steps ups COVID-19 testing for international flyers
  • The decision will be effective from Dec. 1 and comes after a man who recently returned from South Africa tested positive for COVID-19
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already asked officials to review a decision to resume all scheduled international flights from Dec. 15

NEW DELHI: India will make on-arrival COVID-19 testing mandatory for flyers from more than a dozen countries, including South Africa and Britain where the Omicron variant has been detected, the health ministry said on Monday.
The decision will be effective from Dec. 1 and comes after a man who recently returned from South Africa tested positive for COVID-19, though it is not yet clear which strain of the coronavirus he contracted.
Further investigations are ongoing, an official said.
“The patient is currently under observation and is displaying mild symptoms,” Pradeep Awate, a senior health official in Maharashtra state where the man is isolating, told Reuters.
“Still, we are monitoring him out of abundant caution.”
The federal health ministry said all arrivals from Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel will be tested at the airport using the RT-PCR method.
Additionally, 5 percent of all travelers from other countries will be randomly tested, the ministry added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already asked officials to review a decision to resume all scheduled international flights from Dec. 15. Currently only special flights as per bilateral or other agreements are flying.
India reported 8,309 new coronavirus infections on Monday, taking the total to 34.58 million — only behind the tally of the United States. Deaths rose by 236 to 468,790, health ministry data showed.