UK barrister rescues Afghan female judges in airlift operation

UK barrister rescues Afghan female judges in airlift operation
Baroness Kennedy is working with a team of pro-bono lawyers, and has booked and organized evacuation flights from Kabul to Athens. (AFP)
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Updated 31 October 2021

UK barrister rescues Afghan female judges in airlift operation

UK barrister rescues Afghan female judges in airlift operation
  • Baroness Kennedy raised $1.3m, persuaded Greek president to accept refugee flights

LONDON: A veteran UK barrister has raised more than $1.3 million to help hundreds of at-risk female judges in Afghanistan flee to Europe with their families.

Baroness Kennedy is working with a team of pro-bono lawyers, and has booked and organized evacuation flights from Kabul to Athens, where many of the evacuees are residing in temporary accommodation.

The first plane chartered by Kennedy three weeks ago transported 26 female judges and their family members, with the next two flights carrying 375 people, including 77 women judges.

Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the Greek president and a former judge, was persuaded by Kennedy to accept the families. The Georgian government also permitted their transit.

“These women were in mortal danger. They were running courts on things like domestic violence and child marriage, and many of them locked up Taliban,” said Kennedy.

“As soon as the Taliban came back, they had to flee. We had encouraged these women (to pursue law) and now they were in danger. If every country with a conscience could take 10 families that would be great.”

Monasa Naseri, 33, who arrived with her husband, also a judge, and other family members, said: “There wasn’t a person on the plane who wasn’t crying. We had been moving from place to place for two months and were in terror. My father was so depressed that I thought he would die.”

Two orphaned brothers, Wali, 18, and Wahab, 19, were also on the flight. Their mother Qadria Yasini, one of Afghanistan’s first female Supreme Court judges, was murdered in January.

Kennedy is the director of human rights for the International Bar Association, which trained female lawyers and judges in Afghanistan.

As part of the evacuation process, she also oversaw the creation of safe houses in Kabul and the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Kennedy warned that another 100 female judges remain trapped in Afghanistan, and due to insurance costs it will take a further $1.3 million to evacuate them safely.


Criticism of Western double standards over Ukraine ‘fair’: RUSI chief

Criticism of Western double standards over Ukraine ‘fair’: RUSI chief
Updated 26 sec ago

Criticism of Western double standards over Ukraine ‘fair’: RUSI chief

Criticism of Western double standards over Ukraine ‘fair’: RUSI chief
  • Syrian, Afghan refugees ‘certainly not treated the same way,’ says Karin von Hippel

DAVOS: Accusations of double standards over the West’s approach to the Ukraine conflict and its refugee influx compared to conflicts elsewhere in the world are fair, said the director general of the Royal United Services Institute, a British defense and security think tank.
The crucial difference in the Ukraine conflict, however, is that it involves Russia, a nuclear power and one of the world’s biggest energy suppliers, Karin von Hippel added.
“I think it’s a fair criticism (of the West), and certainly Afghans, Syrians, these big groups of refugees, were not treated the same way,” she told Arab News at the World Economic Forum.
“Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey welcomed Syrian refugees, but now you have Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia all doing the same with Ukrainians. It’s the normal way things happen, but the added dimension is Russia has nuclear weapons, and also has so much fuel that so many countries rely on,” she added.
“(Nuclear weapons) could cause huge damage, so it’s a conflict for Europe, and Europe is dealing with it as best it can.”
While the EU, the US and Canada have actively supported and armed Ukraine, von Hippel said there should be more global pressure put on the Kremlin to cease hostilities.
“I think there could be more of a global effort to put pressure on Russia, (including) countries in the Middle East that have influence with Russia, to end this war, to also let Russians know that killing civilians in this way is not the way you can behave in the 21st century, just like (the world) did on Syria,” she added.
“Countries pushed very hard on (Syrian President Bashar) Assad. While it didn’t work with Assad, they did isolate him.
“What I worry about after this is how does (Russian President Vladimir) Putin get reintegrated? I’d hope he could remain an international pariah, and he’s going to be in a similar position (to Assad). He’s gone too far, just as Assad went way too far.”
Von Hippel drew similarities between eventual reconstruction in Ukraine and the cycle of rebuilding in Lebanon.
She also expressed hope that levels of corruption seen in Afghanistan’s rebuilding efforts could be avoided in Ukraine.
“If you look at Lebanon, I was there in 2007 when the Israelis bombed the Hezbollah areas, and so much of that has already been rebuilt. Lebanon has been rebuilt several times,” she said.
“It will be a healthy injection into the (Ukrainian) economy. The question will be about corruption, especially with a rush to get the money in.
“The world will be watching, but it isn’t just governments that spend the money. All sorts of companies get awarded contracts.
“You saw it in Afghanistan — all these American companies spent way more money than they knew how to spend and didn’t really achieve anything.”


Duterte vows to continue ‘war on drugs’ after Philippine presidency

Duterte vows to continue ‘war on drugs’ after Philippine presidency
Updated 11 min 49 sec ago

Duterte vows to continue ‘war on drugs’ after Philippine presidency

Duterte vows to continue ‘war on drugs’ after Philippine presidency
  • ICC estimates the death toll from the anti-drug campaign could be 30,000
  • Rodrigo Duterte’s term will end on June 30

MANILA: Outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced he will carry on with his “war on drugs” even after the expiry of his term in office next month.
The Philippines has come under pressure from the UN to investigate allegations of systematic killings of drug suspects under the anti-drug campaign, which Duterte has led since assuming power in 2016.
According to official data, Duterte’s war on drugs has led to the deaths of over 6,000 Filipinos, but the International Criminal Court estimates the death toll could be 30,000.
The court’s prosecutors launched an investigation into the anti-drug campaign in September last year, saying it appeared to have been “a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population” and could amount to crimes against humanity.
The probe was suspended two months later to assess a deferral request from the Philippine government and has not resumed since.
As Duterte’s six-year term expires on June 30, he said in a televised meeting with Cabinet members that drugs would make Philippine society “dysfunctional.”
“We can continue this fight even if I am already a civilian,” he said, adding that he would rather see drug lords and drug peddlers “dead than alive.”
“If you destroy my country, it is as if you ended our lives. So, I want drug lords to know I will forever remain your enemy. Remember that.”
Once he leaves office, Duterte will not have the official power to pursue his war on drugs.
“He cannot do that in his official capacity anymore,” the president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers Edre Olalia told Arab News. “But, of course, you and I know that he’s still in power through proxies.”
Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, is the running mate of Ferdinand Marcos, who scored a landslide victory in this month’s presidential election and is set to be inaugurated on June 30.
During his presidential campaign, Marcos vowed to continue Duterte’s policies, although he told the media he would also focus on education and rehabilitation in dealing with the country’s drug problems.
For Olalia, the fact that the drug problem still exists proves that Duterte’s approach has not helped address it.
“Otherwise, we will be harvesting the fruits of such an approach, if indeed there was now a lower supply of drugs in the market, fewer drug addicts, and if there were no more drug lords. That’s the best proof that it really is not working.”


Dutch arrest Syrian-born man suspected of war crimes

Dutch arrest Syrian-born man suspected of war crimes
Updated 24 May 2022

Dutch arrest Syrian-born man suspected of war crimes

Dutch arrest Syrian-born man suspected of war crimes
  • Man was taken into custody in the town of Kerkrade after applying for asylum in the Netherlands in 2020
  • The suspect is said to have been a member of the Liwa al-Quds militia who are loyal to the regime of Syria's president

THE HAGUE: Dutch police arrested a Syrian-born man suspected of committing war crimes in 2013 while fighting as a member of pro-Damascus militia forces in Syria’s ongoing civil war, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The 34-year-old man was taken into custody in the southern town of Kerkrade after applying for asylum in the Netherlands in 2020.
He is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Brechtje van de Moosdijk, spokeswoman for the public prosecution service said.
“He is also accused of participating in an organization whose aim is to commit international crimes,” she said in a statement.
The suspect will go before a judge in a first closed-door appearance on Friday.
The suspect, who was not identified, is said to have been a member of the Liwa Al-Quds militia who are loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
In January 2013, he and militia members, as well as Syrian intelligence forces allegedly arrested a civilian man at his home in the Al-Nayrab Palestinian refugee camp near the northwestern city of Aleppo.
“The civilian was mistreated during the arrest and later taken to a Syrian Air Force intelligence prison, where he is said to have been tortured,” Van de Moosdijk said.
Syria’s war is estimated to have killed nearly half a million people and displaced millions since it began with a brutal crackdown of anti-government protests in 2011.
It escalated to pull in foreign powers and global extremists.
Militia forces “were an important link in a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population,” Van de Moosdijk said.
“They were used, for example, in the crackdown on demonstrations of civilians, and to arrest civilians.”
Dutch prosecutors regard Liwa Al-Quds as a criminal organization, similar to the Daesh group, she said.
A German court in January sentenced a former Syrian colonel to life in jail for crimes against humanity in the first global trial over state-sponsored torture in Syria.
Anwar Raslan, 58, was found guilty of overseeing the murder of 27 people and the torture of 4,000 others at the Al-Khatib detention center in Damascus, also known as “Branch 251,” in 2011 and 2012.
He had sought refuge in Germany after deserting the Syrian regime in 2012.


Germany orders 40,000 vaccine doses as precaution against monkeypox spread

Germany orders 40,000 vaccine doses as precaution against monkeypox spread
Five cases of monkeypox have been registered in Germany so far. (Shutterstock)
Updated 24 May 2022

Germany orders 40,000 vaccine doses as precaution against monkeypox spread

Germany orders 40,000 vaccine doses as precaution against monkeypox spread
  • Germany has ordered 40,000 doses of a Bavarian Nordic vaccine to be ready to vaccinate contacts of those infected with monkeypox
  • German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the outbreak of monkeypox could be contained and did not signal the start of a new pandemic

Germany has ordered 40,000 doses of a Bavarian Nordic vaccine to be ready to vaccinate contacts of those infected with monkeypox if an outbreak in Germany becomes more severe, but officials are banking on other precautionary measures for now.
Speaking at a press conference, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Tuesday that measures such as an isolation period of at least 21 days recommended for infected people would suffice for now to contain the outbreak.
“If infections spread further we will want to be prepared for possible ring vaccinations that are not yet recommended at this point but might become necessary,” said Lauterbach, referring to the strategy of vaccinating contacts of an infected person.
He said the outbreak of monkeypox could be contained and did not signal the start of a new pandemic, adding that early intervention can prevent the pathogen from becoming firmly established in communities.
So far, five cases have been registered in Germany, all men, said Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, also speaking at the press conference.
A World Health Organization official on Monday issued similar guidance, saying the outbreak does not require mass vaccinations because measures like hygiene and safe sexual behavior will help control the spread.
The WHO has registered more than 250 confirmed and suspected monkeypox infections, with a geographic spread that is unusual for the disease which is endemic in parts of west and central Africa but rare elsewhere.
US health officials said this week that there are more than 1,000 doses of the Bavarian Nordic vaccine in the national stockpile and they expect that level to ramp up very quickly in the coming weeks.
The vaccine is branded Jynneos in the United States where it is approved for use against smallpox and monkeypox. It is also approved for smallpox in Europe, where it is called Imvanex, but has been provided for off-label use in response to monkeypox cases.
The Danish company said last week it secured a contract with an undisclosed European country to supply Imvanex in response to new cases of monkeypox.


Pakistan bans Imran Khan’s rally, cracks down on supporters

Pakistan bans Imran Khan’s rally, cracks down on supporters
Updated 24 May 2022

Pakistan bans Imran Khan’s rally, cracks down on supporters

Pakistan bans Imran Khan’s rally, cracks down on supporters
  • Imran Khan urges supporters to converge on Islamabad on Wednesday for a massive rally

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday banned ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan from holding a massive, planned rally in the capital of Islamabad and cracked down on his supporters in overnight raids across the country, arresting hundreds.
The ban came hours after a policeman was killed during one of the raids, when a supporter of the former premier opened fire after officers entered his home in the city of Lahore.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah warned Khan that he would “not be allowed to disrupt peace in Islamabad” and would be arrested if needed, should the rally go ahead. Sanaullah earlier in the day accused Khan of seeking to create a civil war-like situation.
The former cricket star turned Islamist politician, Khan served as prime minister for over three and half years until he was ousted by a no-confidence vote in parliament in April.
Khan has remained defiant, demanding early elections and claiming his removal was the result of a US-organized plot in collusion with his successor, Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Washington denies any role in Pakistan’s internal politics.
Earlier this week, Khan urged supporters to converge on Islamabad on Wednesday for a massive rally to pressure Sharif’s government. The demonstration, he said, would continue until a date for snap elections was announced.
Sanaullah, the interior minister, said the decision to ban the rally was taken after Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party failed to assure the administration in writing that the rally would be peaceful.
Earlier Tuesday, authorities stepped up security in Islamabad, deploying additional officers and paramilitary Rangers. Large shipping containers were placed on a key road leading to the parliament building, to prevent Khan’s supporters from getting close and possibly staging a sit-in there.
According to Fawad Chaudhry, a spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Insaf party, police raids against their supporters started shortly after midnight Monday. Homes were still being raided on Tuesday morning and at least 400 supporters of the party were arrested across the country, Chaudhry said. Khan condemned the arrests on Twitter.
Authorities confirmed the raids but refused to share details about any arrests.
At a news conference in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Tuesday, Khan vowed to carry on with the rally in the Pakistani capital as planned.
“I tell my supporters to reach Islamabad and I will also be there,” he said, insisting he was not afraid of death and urging his followers to “get ready for sacrifices” for the sake of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Several other prominent figures from Khan’s party warned police they could face violent resistance if raids on their homes continued.

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