Japan offers Libya an ‘Electoral Assistance Grant Aid Plan’

Japan offers Libya an ‘Electoral Assistance Grant Aid Plan’
Libya covers an area of 1.76 million square kilometers and has a population of about 6.78 million. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 October 2021

Japan offers Libya an ‘Electoral Assistance Grant Aid Plan’

Japan offers Libya an ‘Electoral Assistance Grant Aid Plan’

TOKYO: Japan signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to provide Libya with 198 million yen ($1.8 million) grant aid for supporting local election programs.

The agreement was reached on Oct. 24 at the Japanese embassy in Tripoli and signed by Yuki Tenji, the Japanese temporary deputy ambassador, the special coordinator of Libya Mark Andre Franche, and the UNDP Libya Office.

According to the foreign ministry in Tokyo, this aid will help conduct smooth, free, and fair national elections scheduled throughout Libya for December and will be the first step in establishing a legitimate unified government representing the Libyan people.   

The aid will provide the National Electoral Commission with ballot boxes and other election-related equipment, thus contributing to the realization of a peaceful and safe society.

Libya covers an area of ​​1.76 million square kilometers, has a population of about 6.78 million and has a per capita gross national income of US $7,640, the ministry said.

This story was originally published in Japanese on Arab News Japan


New Zealand navy ships taking water, other supplies to tsunami-hit Tonga

New Zealand navy ships taking water, other supplies to tsunami-hit Tonga
Updated 19 sec ago

New Zealand navy ships taking water, other supplies to tsunami-hit Tonga

New Zealand navy ships taking water, other supplies to tsunami-hit Tonga
  • Hundreds of homes in Tonga’s smaller outer islands have been destroyed
  • Tonga is one of the few countries that is COVID-19 free and an outbreak there would disastrous
Two New Zealand navy vessels will arrive in Tonga on Friday, carrying much-needed water and other supplies for the Pacific island nation reeling from a volcanic eruption and tsunami, and largely cut off from the outside world.
Hundreds of homes in Tonga’s smaller outer islands have been destroyed, and at least three people were killed after Saturday’s huge eruption triggered tsunami waves, which rolled over the islands causing what the government has called an unprecedented disaster.
With its airport smothered under a layer of volcanic ash and communications badly hampered by the severing of an undersea cable, information on the scale of the devastation has mostly come from reconnaissance aircraft.
“For the people of Tonga, we’re heading their way now with a whole lot of water,” Simon Griffiths, captain of the HMNZS Aotearoa, said in a release.
Griffiths said his ship was carrying 250,000 liters of water, and had the capacity to produce another 70,000 liters a day, along with other supplies.
New Zealand’s foreign ministry said the Tongan government has approved the arrival of Aotearoa and the HMNZS Wellington in the COVID-free nation, where concerns about a potential coronavirus outbreak are likely to complicate relief efforts.
Tonga has said its water supplies have been contaminated by ash from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, which erupted with a blast heard 2,300 kilometers away in New Zealand. It also sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean.
James Garvin, chief scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said the force of the eruption was estimated to be equivalent to five to 10 megatons of TNT, an explosive force more than 500 times the nuclear bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War Two.
The Red Cross said its teams in Tonga were distributing drinking water across the islands where salt water from the tsunami and volcanic ash were “polluting the clean drinking water sources of tens of thousands of people.”
Other countries and agencies including the United Nations are drawing up plans to send aid.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said it would send help, including water and food, when the archipelago’s main Fua’amotu International Airport reopens. It was not damaged but was covered in ash, which is being cleared manually,
“We thought that it would be operational yesterday, but it hasn’t been fully cleared yet because more ash has been falling,” Fiji-based UN co-ordinator Jonathan Veitch said on Wednesday.
Pacific neighbor Fiji will send defense engineers on Australia’s HMAS Adelaide, which is due to set sail from Brisbane for Tonga on Friday, a Fiji military spokesman told a briefing in Suva.
A second New Zealand Defense P3 Orion surveillance flight will fly over Tonga on Wednesday to assess damage, the foreign ministry said.
Waves reaching up to 15 meters hit the outer Ha’apia island group, destroying all of the houses on the island of Mango, as well as the west coast of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, the prime minister’s office said.
On the west coast of Tongatapu, residents were being moved to evacuation centers as 56 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged on that coast.
New Zealand said power has now been restored, and clean-up and damage assessments were going on and Tongan authorities were distributing relief supplies.
Australia and New Zealand have promised immediate financial assistance. The US Agency for International Development approved $100,000 in immediate assistance to support people affected by volcanic eruptions and tsunami waves.
Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni has met the heads of diplomatic missions to discuss aid, the office said.
Tonga is still largely offline after the volcano severed the sole undersea fiber-optics communication cable.
International mobile phone network provider Digicel has set up an interim system on Tongatapu using the University of South Pacific’s satellite dish, the New Zealand foreign ministry said.
That would allow a 2G connection to be established but the connection is patchy and amounts to about 10 percent of usual capacity,
US cable company SubCom has advised it will take at least four weeks for Tonga’s cable be repaired, it added.
Tongan communities abroad have posted images from families on Facebook, giving a glimpse of the devastation, with homes reduced to rubble, fallen trees, cracked roads and sidewalks and everything coated with grey ash.
Aid agencies, including the United Nations, are preparing to get relief supplies to Tonga at a distance to avoid introducing the coronavirus, Veitch said.
Tonga is one of the few countries that is COVID-19 free and an outbreak there would disastrous, he said.
“We believe that we will be able to send flights with supplies. We’re not sure that we can send flights with personnel and the reason for this is that Tonga has a very strict COVID-free policy,” Veitch told a briefing.
“They’ve been very cautious about opening their borders like many Pacific islands, and that’s because of the history of disease outbreaks in the Pacific which has wiped out societies here.”

Giuliani and other pro-Trump lawyers hit with subpoenas over Jan 6 attack

In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. (AP)
In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. (AP)
Updated 19 January 2022

Giuliani and other pro-Trump lawyers hit with subpoenas over Jan 6 attack

In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. (AP)
  • The committee said it is seeking records and deposition testimony from Giuliani, the 76-year-old former New York City mayor once celebrated for his leadership after 9/11, in connection to his promotion of election fraud claims on behalf of Trump

WASHINGTON: The House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection issued subpoenas Tuesday to Rudy Giuliani and other members of Donald Trump’s post-election legal team who filed multiple lawsuits claiming election fraud that were roundly rejected by the courts but gave rise to the lie that Trump did not really lose the 2020 presidential contest.
The committee is continuing to widen its scope into Trump’s orbit, this time demanding information and testimony from Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Boris Epshteyn. All four publicly defended the president and his baseless voter fraud claims in the months after the election.
“The four individuals we’ve subpoenaed today advanced unsupported theories about election fraud, pushed efforts to overturn the election results, or were in direct contact with the former President about attempts to stop the counting of electoral votes,” Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democratic chairman of the panel, said in a statement.
The committee said it is seeking records and deposition testimony from Giuliani, the 76-year-old former New York City mayor once celebrated for his leadership after 9/11, in connection to his promotion of election fraud claims on behalf of Trump. The panel is also seeking information about Giuliani’s reported efforts to persuade state legislators to take steps to overturn the election results.
A lawyer for Giuliani did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
Giuliani took on a leading role in disputing the election results on Trump’s behalf after the 2020 presidential election, even visiting states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, where he claimed ballots “looked suspicious” and Biden’s electoral win was a fraud.
To this day, not a single court has found merit in the core legal claims made by Trump, Giuliani and the other three subpoenaed Tuesday.
The nine-member panel is also demanding information from Trump legal adviser Ellis, who the lawmakers say reportedly prepared and circulated two memos that analyzed the constitutional authority for then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject or delay counting the electoral votes from states that had submitted alternate slates of electors.
Besides Giuliani, Sidney Powell was the most public face of Trump’s attempts to contest the election, routinely making appearances on behalf of the president.
In numerous interviews and appearances post-election, Powell continued to make misleading statements about the voting process, unfurled unsupported and complex conspiracy theories involving communist regimes and vowed to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.
Ellis and Powell appeared with Giuliani at press conferences, pushing false claims of election fraud. Powell was eventually removed from the team after she said in an interview she was going to release “the kraken” of lawsuits that would prove the election had been stolen.
Powell did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
The last person subpoenaed Tuesday by the committee is Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump campaign strategic adviser, who reportedly attended meetings at the Willard Hotel in the days leading up to the insurrection. The committee said Epshteyn had a call with Trump on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, to discuss options to delay the certification of election results in the event of Pence’s unwillingness to deny or delay the process.
 


UK police asked to probe Indian officials’ role in Kashmir

UK police asked to probe Indian officials’ role in Kashmir
Updated 19 January 2022

UK police asked to probe Indian officials’ role in Kashmir

UK police asked to probe Indian officials’ role in Kashmir
  • The law firm’s report was based on over 2,000 testimonies taken between 2020 and 2021

LONDON: A London-based law firm filed an application with British police Tuesday seeking the arrest of India’s army chief and a senior Indian government official over their alleged roles in war crimes in disputed Kashmir.
Law firm Stoke White said it submitted extensive evidence to the Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes Unit documenting how Indian forces headed by Gen. Manoj Mukund Naravane and Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah were responsible for the torture, kidnapping and killing of activists, journalists and civilians.
The law firm’s report was based on over 2,000 testimonies taken between 2020 and 2021. It also accused eight unnamed senior Indian military officials of direct involvement in war crimes and torture in Kashmir.
“There is strong reason to believe that Indian authorities are conducting war crimes and other violence against civilians in Jammu and Kashmir,” the report states, referring to territory that is part of the Himalayan region.
The request to London police was made under the principle of “universal jurisdiction,” which gives countries authority to prosecute individuals accused of crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world.
The international law firm in London said it believes its application is the first time that legal action has been taken abroad against Indian authorities over alleged war crimes in Kashmir.
Hakan Camuz, director of international law at Stoke White, said he hoped the report would convince British police to open an investigation and ultimately arrest the officials when they set foot in the UK Some of the Indian officials have financial assets and other links to Britain.
“We are asking the UK government to do their duty and investigate and arrest them for what they did based on the evidence we supplied to them. We want them to be held accountable,” Camuz said.
The police application was made on behalf of the family of Zia Mustafa, a jailed militant whom Camuz said was the victim of an extrajudicial killing by Indian authorities in 2021, and the behalf of human rights campaigner Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, who was allegedly tortured before his arrest last week.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, which both claim the region in its entirety. Muslim Kashmiris support rebels who want to unite the region, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. In Indian-controlled Kashmir, tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the past two decades.
Kashmiris and international rights groups have long accused Indian troops of carrying out systematic abuse and arrests of those who oppose rule from New Delhi.
In 2018, the UN human rights chief called for an independent international investigation into reports of rights violations in Kashmir, alleging “chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces.”
India’s government has denied the alleged right violations and maintains such claims are separatist propaganda meant to demonize Indian troops in the region.
The law firm’s investigation suggested that the abuse has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
Its report also included details about the arrest of Khurram Parvez, the region’s most prominent rights activist, by India’s counterterrorism authorities last year.
Parvez, 42, worked for the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, which has written extensive reports about Indian troops’ use of violence and torture.
Other accounts in the report discuss journalist Sajad Gul, who was arrested earlier this month after he posted a video of family members and relatives protesting the killing of a rebel commander.
Human rights lawyers have increasingly used the universal jurisdiction principle to seek justice for people who were unable to file criminal complaints in their home countries or with the International Criminal Court, located in The Hague.
Last week, a German court convicted a former Syrian secret police officer of crimes against humanity for overseeing the abuse of thousands of detainees at a jail near Damascus a decade ago.
Camuz said he hoped the request to British police seeking the arrest of Indian officials will be followed by other legal actions also focusing on Kashmir.
“We are sure this is not going to be the last one, there will probably be many more applications,” he said.

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Former FARC hostage Betancourt announces fresh presidential bid

Ingrid Betacourt smiles during a press conference in Bogota, Colombia, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (AP)
Ingrid Betacourt smiles during a press conference in Bogota, Colombia, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (AP)
Updated 19 January 2022

Former FARC hostage Betancourt announces fresh presidential bid

Ingrid Betacourt smiles during a press conference in Bogota, Colombia, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (AP)
  • The Revolutionary Armed Forced of Colombia (FARC) has been disarmed and disbanded under a 2016 peace pact that ended Colombia’s decades-long internal war, and has since converted itself into a minority political party

BOGOTA: Ingrid Betancourt — who was abducted 20 years ago while campaigning for Colombia’s presidency, and held captive by FARC rebels in the jungle for more than six years — on Tuesday announced a new bid for the country’s top job.
The Franco-Colombian leader of the Oxygen Green Party told reporters in Bogota she would vie to become the nominee to represent centrist parties in the race.
If she wins the nomination, she will contest the first round presidential election on May 29.
“I will work tirelessly from this moment... to be your president,” she said.
Betancourt, 60, was captured by the FARC guerilla group in 2002 while campaigning for the presidency, and was rescued in a military operation six-and-a-half years later, in 2008.
She was chained for much of her captivity after she tried to escape.
The Revolutionary Armed Forced of Colombia (FARC) has been disarmed and disbanded under a 2016 peace pact that ended Colombia’s decades-long internal war, and has since converted itself into a minority political party.
“I am here today to finish what I started with many of you in 2002,” said Betancourt, who has mostly lived abroad since her liberation.
She added she was convinced “Colombia is ready to change course.”
Betancourt presented herself as a centrist alternative to the right in power and the left led by former M-19 guerrilla and former Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro, a favorite in the polls.
“For decades, we have had only bad options: extreme right, extreme left,” she said.
“The moment has come to have a centrist option.”
She listed as objectives environmental protection and combating insecurity in a country with high rates of violence, and said she believed “in a world with a woman’s vision.”
Betancourt returned to public life in support of the peace process, confronting her captors last June for the first time since her ordeal in a meeting between victims and perpetrators arranged by Colombia’s Truth Commission.
Colombia established the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), a tribunal to try the worst atrocities committed during the conflict.
Since 2017, it has charged former FARC commanders with the kidnapping of at least 21,000 people and the recruitment of 18,000 minors.
The JEP hopes to deliver its first verdicts this year. It has the authority to offer alternatives to jail time to people who confess their crimes and make reparations.


Environmental activist, 14, shot dead in Colombia

Handout picture released by indigenous group ACIN on January 18, 2022, showing Colombian 14-year-old environmental activist Breiner David Cucuname. (AFP)
Handout picture released by indigenous group ACIN on January 18, 2022, showing Colombian 14-year-old environmental activist Breiner David Cucuname. (AFP)
Updated 19 January 2022

Environmental activist, 14, shot dead in Colombia

Handout picture released by indigenous group ACIN on January 18, 2022, showing Colombian 14-year-old environmental activist Breiner David Cucuname. (AFP)
  • Despite the peace pact, Colombia has seen a flare-up of violence in recent months due to fighting over territory and resources by dissident FARC guerrillas, the ELN rebel group, paramilitary forces and drug cartels

BOGOTA: A 14-year-old environmental activist has been shot dead in Colombia, indigenous groups and officials said, in the latest such attack in the world’s deadliest country for environmentalists.
Breiner David Cucuname was one of two people killed while taking part in a rural security patrol Friday by an indigenous guard in the southwestern Cauca department plagued by violence between illicit armed groups.
The group of the Nasa indigenous community, armed only with batons, came across armed men on their patrol route, according to the Cauca regional indigenous council (CRIC).
The men opened fire, killing a member of the guard and young Cucuname, who it described as “a defender of our Mother Earth.”
Two others were injured, the CRIC added.
Another indigenous grouping, ACIN, blamed the shooting on dissidents of the FARC guerilla group who rejected a 2016 peace deal that ended near six decades of conflict in Colombia. It said two of the gunmen were arrested.
President Ivan Duque said on Twitter the death of the boy, a “flag-bearer of environmental protection in his community of Cauca, fills us with sadness.”
On Monday, Colombia’s human rights ombudsman said 145 community leaders and rights defenders were killed in 2021.
They included 32 representatives of indigenous groups, 16 advocates for rural or agricultural communities, and seven trade unionists.
Despite the peace pact, Colombia has seen a flare-up of violence in recent months due to fighting over territory and resources by dissident FARC guerrillas, the ELN rebel group, paramilitary forces and drug cartels.
It is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for activists, according to observer groups such as Global Witness, which has identified the country as the deadliest for environmentalists, with 65 killed in 2020.
The regions with the highest number of killings last year were the same in which fighting is fierce over thousands of hectares of drug crops or illegal mines.
Duque’s government accuses drug traffickers of being behind the killings in the country, which is the world’s largest cocaine producer.
According to the Indepaz thinktank, Cucuname was the second environmental defender killed this year, for a total of 1,288 since the 2016 peace agreement.