News (handpicked)

Nine members of the UN Human Rights Council accused of violating human rights

 By Independent UK

Twenty-nine countries are said to retaliate against citizens that help the United Nations with its human rights work in those countries, according to a new UN report.

In previous reports, an average of 15 countries were listed, and never more than 20. This is a record.

The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) issued the eighth annual report about the condition of the people working with it to identify human rights violations around the world.

It was reported to OHCHR that these people had been abducted, detained, held incommunicado, or had disappeared, according to Andrew Gilmour, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.

Other victims lost their jobs, had their homes or offices raided, were targeted by travel bans and asset freezes, as well as being forced to undergo unwanted psychiatric “treatment.” Many cases involved arbitrary detention and torture, sometimes by sexual assault or rape.

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Venezuela anti-government unrest marks 50th day with huge marches

 Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets on Saturday to mark 50 days of protests against the unpopular government of President Nicolas Maduro, with unrest gaining momentum despite a rising death toll and chaotic scenes of nighttime looting.

At least 46 people have been killed in the worst turmoil faced by Maduro since he won the presidency in 2013. Venezuelans from civilians to police have been killed, sometimes during increasingly frequent spates of looting or street melees.

Many Venezuelans are furious with Maduro's government, blaming it for soaring inflation, shortages of everything from food to medicine, and a crackdown on human rights. They are demanding elections, freedom for jailed activists, foreign aid, and autonomy for the opposition-led legislature.

Major opposition marches took place across the oil-rich nation of 30 million on Saturday, with protesters in Caracas brandishing placards that read “No More dictatorship in Venezuela” while in the volatile border city of San Cristobal masked youths threw rocks, and a Reuters witness saw two protesters wielding machetes.

The Andean area near Colombia suffered a week of mayhem that included looting, prompting the government to send in 2,000 troops.

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Historic Colombia ceasefire signed

The Colombian government and the Farc rebels have signed a historic ceasefire deal, bringing them closer to ending more than five decades of conflict. The announcement was made in Cuba by Colombia's President, Juan Manuel Santos, and Farc leader Timochenko. The ceasefire is expected to pave the way for a full peace deal. The longest-running insurgency in the Western Hemisphere has killed an estimated 220,000 people and displaced almost seven million. Thursday's announcement caps formal peace talks that started three years ago in the Cuban capital Havana.  The agreement includes a timetable for laying down arms and a number of guarantees for the security of the guerrillas when they disarm.

BBC News

Argentina, primer país que condena a los jerarcas del Plan Cóndor

El Plan Cóndor fue algo único. Un pacto entre seis dictaduras latinoamericanas para intercambiar información y sobre todo colaborar en secuestros y asesinatos de disidentes políticos que luchaban para derrocarlas. Es una de las historias trágicas más conocidas de América, con centenares de víctimas. Y sin embargo, más de 30 años después de su acta fundacional, firmada el 28 de diciembre de 1975 en Santiago de Chile y encontrada en el “Archivo del Terror” de Paraguay, ninguna sentencia judicial había reconocido su existencia como una asociación ilícita organizada para matar. Argentina, un país en el que el proceso de los juicios de lesa humanidad está muy avanzado y no cesa, se ha convertido en el primero que condena formalmente a los jerarcas del Plan Cóndor en un larguísimo juicio con 105 víctimas y 18 imputados que empezó en 1999 con cinco casos y ha ido creciendo poco a poco. Un tribunal federal condenó por "asociacion ilícita en el marco del Plan Cóndor" entre 8 y 25 años a los principales imputados.
Entre los condenados está Reynaldo Bignone, último dictador argentino, y el general Santiago Riveros. También está el coronel uruguayo Manuel Cordero, que fue extraditado en 2007 a Argentina desde Brasil, y el exagente de la inteligencia argentina Miguel Ángel Furci, que recibieron las penas más altas, de 25 años de cárcel. No figuran los máximos jefes del Plan Cóndor porque han muerto, pero simbólicamente el proceso judicial también va contra ellos. De hecho, el más cruel y conocido de los dictadores argentinos, Jorge Videla, murió tres días después de declarar en este juicio. Afrontar su responsabilidad en el Plan Cóndor fue lo último que hizo en vida. Videla aseguró ante el tribunal que se hacía cargo de toda la responsabilidad pero sin dar ningún detalle nuevo.

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Refugee crisis: Second Nauru asylum seeker sets themselves on fire amid immigration crackdown

A second refugee has set herself on fire on the island of Nauru just days after the first died in hospital of his injuries from a similar incident.The 21-year-old Somali woman, known as Hadon, is being treated for severe burns in a hospital on the island. Last week, a 23-year-old Iranian refugee named Omid died in a Brisbane hospital after setting himself on fire crying: “This is how tired we are, this action will prove how exhausted we are. I cannot take it anymore,” during a visit by UN officials to the Nibok settlement where he was being held. It comes amid an attempt by the Australian immigration to shift detainees out of mainland facilities. Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has said that no one who attempts to travel to Australia illegally by boat would be allowed to settle in the country.Several sources on Nauru - which is an independent country but hosts several Australian immigration removal centres in exchange for aid - told Guardian Australia that she is currently being treated on the island by Australian trauma specialists. The source said: “The situation is much worse than Omid.” Other refugees have asked for her to be transferred to the mainland for treatment. Hadon is one of three detainees who were forcibly returned to Nauru last week after receiving medical care in Australia for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident late last year. In a statement the government of Nauru said it was “distressed that refugees are attempting such dreadful acts in order to attempt to influence the Australian Government’s immigration policies”.

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Turkey Kurds: 30 dead in Cizre violence as MPs' march blocked

At least 30 people have died in clashes in the Turkish city of Cizre since a military operation began there last week, Turkey's interior ministry says.

The ministry says most of the dead were Kurdish militants but the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) says 20 civilians were killed in the violence.

Locals say Cizre has been "under siege" since the military imposed a curfew.

On Thursday police stopped a delegation of HDP leaders who were trying to reach the south-eastern city on foot.

The group includes the party's leader Selahattin Demirtas and 30 members of parliament, who say they want to draw attention to what is happening in the mainly Kurdish area.

They were intercepted by police near Idil, 28km (17 miles) from Cizre.

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Migrant crisis: Warships rescue thousands off Libya coast

The Malta-based, Migrant Offshore Aid Station, said it co-ordinated the operation along with Italian, Irish and German ships.

Italy's coastguard could not confirm the numbers, but said it was trying to help around a dozen other vessels.

HMS Bulwark, a British Royal Navy ship, is also making its way towards Libya to assist with the situation.

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Aruna Shanbaug: India nurse whose rape changed euthanasia laws

Aruna Shanbaug lay in a near vegetative state for 42 years in a cubicle in Mumbai's King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital, where she had worked as a nurse and where she was sexually assaulted in 1973. Columnist Bachi Karkaria pieces together her story.

Unaware of her unwanted fame, the 67-year-old became India's metaphor for the right to life. Did she want that right?

Emphatically not, says Pinki Virani, the journalist who first brought her story to light. Ms Virani campaigned not for a mercy killing, but for a legal end to her being force fed; and she took the case all the way to India's Supreme Court.

The nurses, who successively tended to one of their own, had a diametrically opposite opinion. They argued that Aruna Shanbaug responded to stimulus and actually "relished" her fish curry, albeit through tubes. Their stand was upheld in the landmark dismissal of Ms Virani's petition in 2011.

In one more of the ironies that mocked Aruna Shanbaug over the decades, the judgment allowed for euthanasia in rare cases - it had been illegal in India - but denied it to the woman who had been at the centre of it all.

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