News (handpicked)

Human Rights Watch exposes India's child soldiers

A human rights group is demanding the Indian government and Maoist rebels stop using child fighters.Claire Mackay reports the group's calling for a rehabilitation scheme the U-S based Human Rights Watch says child soldiers are being used in fighting between India's security forces and Maoist rebels in the country's eastern jungles. The group's Jo Becker says the rebels and the government are exploiting children teaching them to use rifles, and landmines. Eyewitnesses have seen dozens of children dressed in police uniforms armed with rifles.

Human Rights Watch says it's shameful and a scheme is urgently needed to rescue and rehabilitate India's child soldiers. The Maoist rebel movement began as a peasant uprising in 1967 and the Indian government says it's the country's greatest threat to internal security.

US' Rice raised human rights with Libyan officials

TRIPOLI, Sept 5 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday she had raised human rights cases during her historic meetings with Libyan leaders.

"I have raised the cases here," Rice said during a press conference with Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel-Rahman Shalgam, adding that she had done so in a "respectful" manner.

She did not name which individuals she had discussed, but she was responding to a question about whether she had raised cases including Fathi al-Jahmi, an ailing political dissident held against his will in a Tripoli medical center.

Peacekeepers, aid workers race to feed Haitians

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GONAIVES, Haiti (AP) — Normal 0 false false false GA X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} By JONATHAN M. KATZ  U.N. peacekeepers and aid groups struggled to feed thousands left hungry by Tropical Storm Hanna, but had yet to reach thousands even as powerful Hurricane Ike approached Saturday with the likelihood of more rain for this flooded city.Officials feared fatalities in Haiti from Hanna could rise above the 163 confirmed dead.

As U.N. food trucks rumbled through damp streets in Gonaives on Saturday, dozens of children raised their arms and ran after them.

"Hungry! Hungry!" they yelled.

U.N. envoy Hedi Annabi, visiting a shelter where hundreds of people pushed and shoved for water and high-energy biscuits, said relief was trickling in, but that much more was needed.More bad weather could impede aid deliver, recovery of bodies and — with the ground already saturated and rivers overflowing — kill even more people.

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Angolans vote in landmark polls

Voting is taking place in Angola in the first parliamentary polls for 16 years. Although 14 parties are taking part, the contest is primarily between long-term rivals, the ruling MPLA party and opposition Unita party.

Some delays were reported as voting began, and an EU election observer told the BBC that in parts of the capital, Luanda, voting procedures were chaotic. The poor but oil-rich nation has been at peace for six years, when 27 years of conflict came to an end. As the election got under way, people were reported to have begun queuing at polling stations in Luanda.

Among those to vote in the capital early on Friday was President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. But the head of the EU observer mission, Luisa Morgantini, said voting in parts of Luanda had been disorganised.

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Cheney backs membership in NATO for Georgia

TBILISI, Georgia: Vice President Dick Cheney flew here on Thursday to deliver a forceful American pledge to rebuild Georgia and its economy, to preserve its sovereignty and its territory and to bring it into the NATO alliance in defiance of Russia.

Cheney spent only four and a half hours in Georgia, but the visit included a strong rebuke to Russia's behavior and a highly symbolic visit to American troops unloading humanitarian supplies at the airport here within sight of an airplane factory that Russian bombs had damaged.

He arrived a day after the United States pledged $1 billion to help Georgia recover from its defeat by Russia's armed forces, which continue to control two breakaway regions, as well as buffer zones in Georgia.

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Human Rights Watch Says Both Russia, Georgia Used Cluster Bombs

The humanitarian organization, Human Rights Watch accuses Russia of using cluster munitions in Georgia during fighting between the two countries over Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia earlier this month. Russia disputes those charges. Human Rights Watch also says Georgia has admitted using the weapons in its drive against South Ossetia. The group says a number of civilians were killed and wounded by these weapons. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

Russia denies using cluster munitions in Georgia. But, Human Rights Watch Researcher, Bonnie Docherty, says her group has firm, well-documented evidence that Russia used these weapons in several areas.

She says the strikes occurred in and near populated areas, posing a threat to civilians.

"The cluster munitions cause civilian casualties at the time of attack because of the broad dispersal of the sub-munitions. They cause civilian casualties after the attack because of the unexploded duds that were left behind. In this case, Human Rights Watch has documented at least 14 civilians killed and dozens more injured in four villages alone. The indiscriminate attacks violate international humanitarian law and show that irresponsible use is the norm and not the exception," she said.

While Human Rights Watch has documented four affected villages, Docherty says its investigators have heard reports of at least nine villages having been targets of cluster munitions.

She says Georgia initially denied having used cluster munitions. But, she says, this past weekend, the Georgian government formally admitted that it used these weapons in certain locations between the Roki tunnel and Dzara road.  This area links Georgia's South Ossetia with North Ossetia, which is Russian territory.

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Rights court rules against Mexican politician

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — An international court has ruled against a one-time Mexican Cabinet secretary who was blocked from running for president as an independent candidate in 2006.

The Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Tuesday ruled that Jorge Castaneda's political and equality rights were not violated.

Castaneda argued Mexican electoral laws that prevented him from running violated several articles of the American Convention on Human Rights.

A well-known academic with a long record of political activity, Castaneda was Mexico's foreign secretary from 2000 to 2003 under President Vicente Fox.

Last year, Mexico's Congress passed a measure allowing candidates with no party affiliation to run for public office.

 

2 journalists attacked, 1 killed in Russia

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia (AP) — One journalist was shot and killed and another was left with a fractured skull after a beating in Russia's troubled North Caucasus, and police and co-workers said Wednesday the two men were likely targeted for their work.

The attacks on an Islamic TV reporter and an opposition newspaper editor are the latest violence to renew fears about the safety of journalists in Russia. A third journalist was shot by police on Sunday — a killing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said represented "a further deterioration of media freedom in Russia."

In the North Caucasus city of Makhachkala, Islamic TV reporter Telman Alishaev died at a hospital Wednesday morning, one day after being shot by two men as he sat in his car, Interior Ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky said.

Alishaev, who hosted a religious-themed program in Dagestan, had produced documentaries and written extensively about Wahhabism — a severe strain of Islam that is the main sect in Saudi Arabia, Shamil Guseinov, another Interior Ministry official, said.

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