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SCHEDULE CASTES

Written by Wednesday, 19 September 2018 06:34

Prior to independence, the condition of the schedule caste was really poor and there were started many movements for their betterment. Jyotiba Phule did a lot of activities for their welfare and he fought for their rights and to educate them. Then after independence, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar added a new chapter towards their progress. Dr. Ambedkar had seen the miserable lifestyle of schedule caste people since childhood and he was well aware of their illiteracy and strong caste based eveil practices such as untouchability. He presented several points before the government for their betterment and as a result of his relentless efforts, such low caste people have been given special reservations, as per Indian constitution. The dream that Dr. Ambedkar for people belonging to  SC category of people seems to have materialized in independent India. Today, we have several state chief ministers who hail from such caste. Mr. Jeetan Ram Manjhi has been a paramount name in such a trend as he is the present CM of Indian state Bihar. Prior to this, Mr. K.R. Narayanan was the president  of India and Mr. Jag Jeevan Ram was deputy PM of India. Ms. Mira kumar was Lok Sabha speaker, who is daughter of Mr. Jag Jeevan Ram. Also, in several union governments too, many ministers had been from this community. The bottomline is that such a class of people has gone far ahead politically, in the recent years. In the field of healthcare, education, science and technology, research and development and in many other fields, these people have gained prominence now.  At the same time, there remains another face where many scheduled caste do not get proper meals twice a day, there is scarcity  of electricity in their colonies.  Although the government has provided them some houses but other than that, their living standard is still very low and a smaller of section of this Scheduled Caste people are still deprive of proper education and professional training. Consequently, these people are still in the traditional profession. The government will still, need to formulate several policies and programmes for their betterment.

 

 

Schedule Castes

 

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Last week, Manmohan Singh had termed the state of the economy as “deeply worrying” and said that the June quarter growth rate of 5% shows that India is in the midst of a prolonged economic slowdown.

BJP’s ally Shiv Sena has backed former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who recently said that the Indian economy is in a bad shape due to “mismanagement” by the Narendra Modi-government, and said that listening to him is in the “national interest.”

Sena’s support for Manmohan Singh, a noted economist, came after the Centre dismissed his criticism of handling of the economy by the Modi-government. The Sena, through an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana, asked the government to pay heed to the former PM’s warning and not indulge in politics over the issue.

Last week, Manmohan Singh had termed the state of the economy as “deeply worrying” and said that the June quarter growth rate of 5% shows that India is in the midst of a prolonged economic slowdown. “India has the potential to grow at a much faster rate, but all-round mismanagement by the Modi government has resulted in this slowdown,” Singh said in a statement.

However, the government rebuffed Singh’s criticism on Tuesday, saying it does not subscribe to his analysis as India has now become the world’s fifth-largest economy from 11th during his time.

“The economy is in doldrums. Kashmir and economic slowdown are two different issues. A learned person like Manmohan Singh there should be no politics around the economic slowdown and experts should be roped in to repair the economy. National interest lies in listening to Manmohan Singh’s advice,” the editorial in Saamana said.

The Sena said that Singh has the “right” to speak about the economy as he has been associated with Indian finance and economy for over 35 years.

The editorial cited PM Modi’s 2017 raincoat remark on Singh and said, “Prime Minister Modi had said ‘Manmohan Singh bathes wearing a raincoat’, but we don’t have qualms in admitting that he knows about economy and finance. He has worked hard to revive the economy when it was in a bad shape.”

The Sena once again cited demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as the main reasons for the slump in the economy. “The noteban failed and the GST has become a noose around the necks of businessmen and industrialists; there is a state of panic in the industry,” it said. Source : ht

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UN Plan to save lives, protect societies and recover better

Written by Thursday, 15 February 2018 06:10

COVID-19 has taken more than 900,000 lives and infected more than 27 million people. The updated UN Comprehensive Response to COVID-19 report provides an overview of the data, analysis, policy recommendations and concrete support that the UN has made available to cope with the health, socio-economic, humanitarian and human rights impacts of COVID-19. The report outlines the steps needed to save lives, protect societies and recover better. As the Secretary-General presented the report to the media he highlighted the importance of making a COVID-19 vaccine affordable and accessible for all. Source : un.org

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Why is women’s leadership not in the headlines?

Written by Friday, 19 January 2018 12:26

The question has never been whether women can lead as capably as men. Women have always led, and women will always lead, especially when the times are hard, and their communities are in need.The question that we need to ask is, why is women’s leadership invisible? Why is their potential and their power stifled?

In the midst of a global pandemic, we find women on the front lines everywhere, as heads of government, legislators, healthcare workers, community leaders, and more. Although women’s organizations and community groups shoulder much of the responsibility of preventing the spread of the virus and serving those in greatest need, they are perennially left out of decision-making processes.

Today, women are Heads of State and Government in only 21 countries, despite the strong case that their leadership makes for more inclusive decision-making and more representative governance, even during this pandemic. Men are still 75 per cent of parliamentarians and hold 73 per cent of managerial positions. Most negotiators in formal peace processes are also men.

This year, International Day of Democracy comes as a reminder that unlocking the full breadth of perspectives, experiences and leadership of women is vital for building back better from this pandemic.

How women lead for the wellbeing of all, in just five stories that you may have missed.

1.     Demonstrating strong women’s leadership in the pandemic

From Germany to New Zealand and Denmark to Iceland, women leaders have shown clarity, empathy, and strong communication in their decisions and policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vjosa Osmanu, the first woman assembly president in Kosovo, is among the many women leaders praised for their leadership during the crisis.

A former professor and mother of two girls, Osmanu is an outspoken advocate for women’s representation in politics. “When women participate in high-ranking political and state level [positions], they contribute to more balanced, gender-sensitive, environmentally considerate and forward-looking policies,” she says.

During the pandemic, women in Kosovo have faced high levels of vulnerability. Like many countries, Kosovo has seen a rise in domestic violence cases since lockdown measures were introduced. “I am consistently raising my voice about the pandemic’s gender dimensions, sharing relevant facts and information, while closely monitoring all government actions,” says Osmani.

Working to protect vulnerable populations from threats related to the COVID-19 crisis, she has joined the UN Women Kosovo campaign against domestic violence and has worked closely with UNICEF on issues related to children’s health and families’ wellbeing.

“A limited number of women hold leadership positions globally and the same applies to Kosovo. Social productivity cannot be reached while people are marginalized, discriminated and face gender-based barriers,” she shares, adding that both men and women need to contribute to efforts that put more women in decision-making positions.

 2.     Fighting food insecurity on the front lines

 Democratic principles are at the heart of the GUYUB project, an initiative providing essential support to women in Indonesia during the COVID-19 crisis. Guyub in Indonesian means “getting along” or “in togetherness”. It’s a philosophy that connects communities even as physical distancing and lockdown measures have disrupted social lives.

Jointly implemented by UN Women, UNODC and UNDP, the project provided recently distributed food and hygiene packages to families in ten Peace Villages across Java. Upon arriving in the villages, the packages were distributed by a women-led task force, in partnership with the Indonesian NGO Wahid Foundation.

“Large-scale social restrictions that were imposed in our city created a challenge for us… to buy, prepare and distribute food packages and hygiene kits,” says Siti Yulaikha, Task Force Member from Sidomulyo, Batu City, East Java. However, the women leaders made use of a facility that had previously served as a food bank, and although movement was limited, they managed to distribute the packages to community members most in need.

“The residents are thankful for the food packages as many shops and markets are closed. They also used the hygiene kits, such as disinfectant and soap, not only at home, but at public spaces, such as the village security post,” says Yulaikha.

To protect the health of their villages, task force members took up other important virus prevention roles as well, disinfecting public spaces, producing and distributing masks, and spreading awareness about health protocols. They have also set up a centre for coronavirus data collection, contact tracing, and health checks.

Their agile adaptation to the challenging circumstances doesn’t stop there; when many women saw dips in earnings due to closed markets and lost business opportunities, they recalled learnings from prior entrepreneurship training and created a WhatsApp group to serve as an online marketplace.

“Food stall owners utilized WhatsApp to arrange takeaway food orders and home delivery. These efforts have helped them with vital, sustained income during the pandemic,” Yulaikha says.

3.     Leading virus prevention efforts across Libya

A step ahead of much of the working world, the 36 women involved in the Libyan Women’s Network for Peacebuilding were accustomed to connecting via phones and computers well before the pandemic hit. Separated by their country’s divisions, the women leaders who come from diverse social, generational, and geographic backgrounds, have been communicating over WhatsApp and Zoom since July 2019 to discuss peacebuilding strategies.

“We believe that we should be one Libya,” says a member of the Network, created with support from UN Women. The members are experienced activists; each is linked to her own regional network of activists that work to support their community. When the threat of the pandemic became known, the women quickly adapted their online activism to respond to the situation.

They shared vital information about the virus and how it spreads on national and local radios, provided cleaning and sanitizing products to low-income households, and disseminated gender-based violence hotline numbers. They partnered with other organizations to distribute masks and gloves in prisons and detention centres and called for the release of prisoners who are either on a short sentence or near to completing their sentence, particularly those who are elderly or ill.

Because the network of women spans the country, they have valuable insights into regional needs and have been instrumental in highlighting population-specific humanitarian issues.

Despite their vital role in managing conflicts and making peace in families and communities, Libyan women are rarely allowed to enter male-dominated decision-making and negotiation spaces. Fighting against multiple issues at once – coronavirus threats as well as marginalization of women in peace processes – these women leaders continue to push for a safer, healthier, more peaceful Libya.

“Libyan women are at the forefront of response to problems; from COVID 19 to the horrific consequences of a conflict that has divided their country and inflicted unimaginable suffering on their communities,” says Begoña Lasagabaster, UN Women Representative in Libya. “It is high time that they had their rightful place in peace talks and their say on the future of Libya.”

4.     Breaking down barriers to health services and information for indigenous communities

 Dr. Waleska López Canú, Medical Director of Wuqu’ Kawoq or Maya Health Alliance, is proud to be Maya Kaqchikel. Her indigenous identity informs much of the work she does with Maya Health Alliance which provides medical services in the most impoverished communities in Guatemala.

Since the onset of the pandemic, López has coordinated telemedicine treatment for severe and chronic malnutrition, sexual and reproductive health, and complex and chronic illnesses so that patients can continue receiving life-saving care despite lockdown measures. Maya Health Alliance has also distributed food aid to more than 900 families.

In addition to providing treatment and aid, the organization seeks to reduce barriers to healthcare so that it can be accessed by all. In the ongoing fight against COVID-19, López has witnessed how language can be a barrier to communicating about virus prevention in indigenous communities. To better serve these marginalized groups, Maya Health Alliance, together with associated institutions, has created a series of videos, audios, and radio programmes, tailored to rural and indigenous contexts, to be distributed in seven Mayan languages, as well as Spanish.

With López as Medical Director, Maya Health Alliance has taken on several other vital roles in COVID-19 response: the organization facilitates the sharing of prevention measures among health professionals through a WhatsApp group of more than 180 members from more than 100 community-based organizations. They also provide personal protective equipment to students in their last year of medical school who offer services in the rural areas, and online assessment and training to medical professionals.

“The crisis caused by the pandemic has made visual our harsh reality, which has historically been neglected,” says López. “Indigenous women, little by little, are becoming conscious of our true role in the family and in society. We have much to contribute, from our life experiences and the knowledge of who we are and [what] we want, as well as the knowledge of the real needs of the community itself.”

Read more about López and other women leaders here, in a collection of stories by the Inter-American Task Force on Women’s Leadership. UN Women is a member of the Task Force, a body composed of key inter-American and international institutions working to promote and support women's leadership in the Americas and the Caribbean.

5.     Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in refugee settlements in Uganda

In the Bidibidi settlement for refugees and displaced persons in the Yumbe District of Uganda, Joyce Maka waits at the water collection point. The mother of three is a refugee from Sudan, arriving in Uganda after her husband was killed by rebels, and she is one of 12 women peace mediators in Zone B of the settlement now leading the fight against COVID-19.

Maka waits at the water station because, despite lockdown measures, people (usually women and girls) still need to frequent this spot in order to collect their water, making it a strategic point to pass on life-saving information. Since the onset of the pandemic, disseminating information about the virus has been challenging as most are confined to their homes.

“We encourage them to stay at least two metres away from each other; we also encourage them to wash their hands before and after pumping water,” Maka explains. In their role as peace mediators, Maka and others typically mediate community disputes, including issues of domestic violence, early marriage, and land rights. However, when the pandemic hit, the mediators transitioned to leading COVID-19 prevention measures.

The women have learned the importance of hand washing, physical distancing, wearing masks, testing, and quarantining, and they share this information with the wider community, through songs that they’ve composed in local dialect.

Gaining the trust and cooperation of the community is key to preventing the spread of COVID-19, so it’s important that the health information come from trusted community members, like the mediators. Their leadership and commitment to the wellbeing of all has never been more crucial. Source : un.org

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13 August 2018 Peace and Security

Attacks against children caught in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen must stop, the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, appealed on Monday.

In a tightly worded statement, UNICEF pointed out that since Sunday, 28 children were reported killed in Idlib and western Aleppo, located in northern Syria. The death toll included an entire family of seven. Furthermore, three UNICEF-supported health facilities were also attacked, two of which are now out of service.

“The war on children in Syria is putting at least one million children at risk in Idlib alone,” said the statement, attributable to Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. These latest incidents follow the deaths of 21 children in Yemen last week, killed when their school bus was hit during an airstrike. For Juliet Touma, UNICEF Chief of Communications in the region, they represent an escalation in attacks on children.

“There’s obviously a war on children,” she told UN News, explaining that ongoing fighting means children in the two countries are being deprived of basic rights such as access to healthcare and education. The Syrian crisis began nearly eight years ago with civilians continuing “to bear the brunt of a conflict marked by unparalleled suffering, destruction and disregard for human life,” according to the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA.

UNICEF reported that more than five million children there require humanitarian assistance, with nearly half forced to flee their homes.

Meanwhile, the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, said three years of fighting in Yemen means nearly two-thirds of the population requires some form of aid relief or protection support to survive.

“Across the region there are about 30 million children who need humanitarian assistance,” Ms. Touma said, also referring to the situation in places such as Libya, Sudan and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

“So, children under attack…and that needs to come to an end.” Source : un.org

 

 

 

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Deeply alarmed by the escalating violence in Syria’s east Ghouta, the United Nations has reiterated a call for an end to hostilities so that the sick and wounded can be immediately evacuated and humanitarian aid deliveries can reach those in need.

Speaking at a Security Council meeting on Wednesday, Secretary-General António Guterres called for an immediate suspension of all war activities in Syria’s conflict-battered east Ghouta, where, he said, “a human tragedy is unfolding in front of our eyes [with] 400,000 people living in hell on earth.”

“I don’t think we can let things go on in this horrendous way,” he urged, explaining that an estimated 700 people in the town, near the Syrian capital, Damascus, need urgent treatment that cannot be provided there.

Since the Syrian Government and their allies escalated their offensive against opposition-held east Ghouta on 4 February, there have been more than 1,200 civilian casualties, including at least 346 killed and 878 injured, mostly in airstrikes hitting residential areas, according to reports documented by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights(OHCHR).

The Office, however, underscored that the figures are “far from comprehensive” and represent only those cases it has managed to document in the midst of the “chaos and destruction” in east Ghouta.

Furthermore, only one humanitarian convoy has been able to make its way to the war-ravaged city since November last year, bringing to one of its enclaves desperately needed but overwhelmingly insufficient food and medical supplies – enough only to meet the needs of 2.6 per cent of the population in need.

Stop the ‘monstrous campaign of annihilation’ of east Ghouta – UN rights chief

Also on Wednesday, the UN human rights chief also appealed to the international community to act urgently to save lives.

“How much cruelty will it take before the international community can speak with one voice to say enough dead children, enough wrecked families, enough violence, and take resolute, concerted action to bring this monstrous campaign of annihilation to an end?” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said in a statement.

“International humanitarian law was developed precisely to stop this type of situation, where civilians are slaughtered in droves in order to fulfil political or military objectives,” he underscored, reiterating his plea to the international community to ensure accountability for the ongoing violations, many of which may amount to war crimes. Source : un.org

 

 

 

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5 February 2018 – Describing January as “a dark month” in crisis-torn Middle East and North Africa, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) director for the region said Monday that the violence has had a devastating toll on children, who were being killed in ongoing conflicts or suicide attacks, or freezing to death as they fled active warzones.

“It is simply unacceptable that children continue being killed and injured every single day,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

In the month of January alone, escalating violence in Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Syria and Yemen has claimed the lives of at least 83 children.

“These children have paid the highest price for wars that they have absolutely no responsibility for. Their lives have been cut short, their families forever broken in grief,” he added.

Mr. Cappelaere said that as the Syrian conflict enters its eighth year, intensifying fighting has reportedly killed 59 children in the past four weeks.

Moreover, across Yemen the UN has verified the killing of 16 children in attacks and continues to receive daily reports of more killed and injured children amidst escalating fighting.

Additionally, a suicide attack took the lives of three children in Libya’s Benghazi while three others died playing near unexploded ordnance – a fourth child remains in critical condition after the blast.

Turning to the old city of Mosul in Iraq, a child was killed in a booby-trapped house, and in the Palestinian Occupied Territory, a boy was shot dead in a village near Ramallah.

Furthermore, 16 refugees, including four children, froze to death in a harsh winter storm in Lebanon – fleeing the war in Syria – where many more children were hospitalized with frost bite.

“We collectively continue failing to stop the war on children,” stressed Mr. Cappelaere.

He underscored, “not hundreds, not thousands but millions more children in the Middle East and North Africa region have their childhoods stolen, maimed for life, traumatized, arrested and detained, exploited, prevented from going to school and from getting the most essential health services; denied even the basic right to play.”

Mr. Cappelaere maintained that we have no justification, no reason to accept this as a new normal.

“Children may have been silenced. But their voices will continue to be heard. Their message is our message: The protection of children is paramount under all circumstances, in line with the law of war,” he argued.

“Breaching that law is a most heinous crime and jeopardizes the future – and not just for children,” concluded the UNICEF Regional Director. Source : un.org

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16 January 2018 – As the brutal conflict in Yemen nears its grim third anniversary, malnutrition and disease are running rampant in the country and virtually every child there is dependent on humanitarian aid to survive, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.

“An entire generation of children in Yemen is growing up knowing nothing but violence,” said Meritxell Relano, the head of UNICEF operations in the war-torn country, underlining the gravity of the crisis.

“Malnutrition and disease are rampant as basic services collapse. Those who survive are likely to carry the physical and psychological scars of conflict for the rest of their lives,” she stated.

Since the escalation of violence in March 2015, when conflict broke out between forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement, Yemen, already the poorest in the region, has been left on the verge of a humanitarian collapse.

Hospitals, medical facilities as well as water and sanitation systems have been rendered inoperable across large parts of the country, and humanitarian assistance is the lifeline for over three-fourths of the country's population.

Born into War

This dire situation in Yemen, has perhaps had the worst impact on the three million children born in country since the conflict erupted.

In its latest report, Born into War – 1,000 Days of Lost Childhood, UNICEF notes that 30 per cent of that number were born premature, another 30 percent had low birth weight and 25,000 died at birth or within the first month of life.

Furthermore, more than half of all children in Yemen lack access to safe drinking water or adequate sanitation, children-under-five represent over a quarter of all cases of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea. An additional 1.8 million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished, including nearly 400,000 severe acutely malnourished children “fighting for their lives” adds the report.

The report calls on all parties to the conflict, those with influence on them and the global community to prioritize the protection of children in Yemen by putting an immediate end to violence and reaching a peaceful political solution.

It also calls for sustainable and unconditional humanitarian across the country and lifting of restrictions on imports of goods into Yemen as well as for sustained and sufficient funding for aid programmes. Source : un.org

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An estimated 500,000 to 750,000 Indian H-1B visa holders could be deported if the administration goes ahead with the proposal which is aligned with President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” vision.

The Trump administration is considering a proposal that could potentially lead to large-scale deportation of foreigners on H-1B visas for high-speciality workers waiting for their Green Card — mostly Indians — and drastically alter the way high-tech companies operate in the United States.

The proposal circulated in the form of an internal memo in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees citizenship and immigration, intends to end the provision of granting extensions to H-1B visa holders whose applications for permanent residency (Green Card) had been accepted.

An estimated 500,000 to 750,000 Indian H-1B visa holders could be sent home if the administration decides to go ahead with the proposal which is aligned with President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” vision to boost manufacturing and protect local jobs for Americans.

“If implemented this could lead to large-scale deportations, mostly of Indians, throwing hundreds and thousands of families into crisis,” said an official of Immigration Voice, an advocacy body in San Jose. Immigration Voice is planning to mount a challenge through outreach and sue when a decision is announced, he added.

“The idea is to create a sort of ‘self-deportation’ of hundreds of thousands of Indian tech workers in the United States to open up those jobs for Americans,” a US source briefed by homeland security officials told McClatchy DC Bureau, which first reported the proposal.

A response to Hindustan Times requests to both DHS and the US citizenship and immigration services (USCIS) was awaited, but the existence of the memo was confirmed by sources in the US and Indian governments, industry and those that are likely to face action under the new rules.

An H-1B visa is granted for three years, with the provision of three more with one extension after which visa holders return to their countries. If approved for Green Card, they wait in the US using extensions.

For Indians, that wait could stretch for years given the massive backlog caused by the system of per-country annual cap on the number of permanent residencies.

The proposal is based on the power of discretion given to USCIS officials to decide on extensions to be given to H-1B holders waiting for Green Card. They could choose to extend from one to three years, and often chose the maximum of three, and granted some visa holders as many extensions as needed.

“If it has been left to their discretion,” said a lobbyist. “They can theoretically decide not to grant any extension at all.”

The Indian government is watching the development with mounting alarm as it had the administration’s previously announced plans and decisions to tighten H-1B rules and regulations with the objective of preventing its abuse to replace American workers with lower-paid foreigners.

One of the plans in February 2017 was to roll back H-4 EAD — a regulation introduced by President Barack Obama to attract and retain highly skilled foreign workers by granting work authorization to spouses of H-1B visa holders awaiting Green cards. That will impact mostly Indians again.

The administration also plans to redefine high-speciality professionals for the purpose of H-1B visas. And there is a general review of the programme ordered by the President.

The United States grants 85,000 non-immigrant H-1B visa every year — 65,000 to foreigners hired abroad and 20,000 to foreigners enrolled in advanced degree courses in US schools and colleges. An estimated 70% of these visas go to Indians — hired mostly by American companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Google and some by American arms of Indian tech giants Infosys, Wipro and TCS.

The US companies, which are large employers of foreign workers but escape the scrutiny facing Indian firms, will be hit the hardest as they are more likely to apply for Green Cards for their H-1B workers than their Indian counterparts, who tend to rotate their workers home at the end of the stipulated period.

These big companies can be expected to push back as well, as could the chamber of commerce. A response was awaited to a request for comments from Compete America, a trade body representing Silicon Valley high-tech firms in Washington DC. Source : ht

 

 

 

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GENEVA (AFP) - The UN human rights chief voiced alarm on Monday (Sept 11) at widespread rights abuses in Venezuela, warning of possible "crimes against humanity" in the crisis-wracked country.

"My investigation suggests the possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed," Mr Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said at the opening of the 36th session of the Human Rights Council, calling for an international probe.

Venezuela's crisis has caused food and medicine shortages, deadly unrest and calls for President Nicolas Maduro to quit.

Clashes with security forces at anti-government protests left 125 people dead from April to July.

"There is a very real danger that tensions will further escalate, with the government crushing democratic institutions and critical voices," Mr Zeid warned.

He said an investigation by his office had noted the widespread use of "criminal proceedings against opposition leaders, recourse to arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force and ill-treatment of detainees, which in some cases amounts to torture".

Late last month, Mr Zeid echoed international concerns that Venezuela was slipping into dictatorship, cautioning that democracy in the country was "barely alive, if still alive".

His office has previously criticised Venezuela's all-powerful constituent assembly and its "truth commission", which has been tasked with investigating several opposition leaders for treason.

On Monday, Mr Zeid said he supported the concept of a truth commission, but stressed that "the current mechanism is inadequate".

"I therefore urge that it be reconfigured with the support and involvement of the international community," he said.

He urged the UN rights council "to establish an international investigation into the human rights violations in Venezuela".

Mr Zeid also pointed out that Venezuela currently holds one of the 47 rotating seats on the Human Rights Council, and thus has a particular duty to "uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights".

Without naming Venezuela specifically, he also called on the council to consider "the need to exclude from this body states involved in the most egregious violations of human rights."

 

 

 

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