News (handpicked)

Ban Ki-moon to Lead Task Force to Tackle Global Food Crisis

29 April 2008 – The Task Force on the Global Food Crisis will bring together the heads of UN agencies, funds and programmes and the Bretton Woods institutions, as well as experts within the UN and leading authorities from the international community.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today that he will lead a high-powered task force to coordinate the efforts of the United Nations system in addressing the global crisis arising from the surge in food prices.

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Spain rejects Peron extradition

A court in Spain has rejected a request from Buenos Aires to extradite former Argentine President Isabel Peron who is wanted for alleged human rights abuses.

The National Court in Madrid ruled that the charges did not constitute crimes against humanity and that therefore the statute of limitations had expired.

Ms Peron, 77, is wanted over alleged links to right-wing paramilitaries who operated during her 1974-1976 rule.

Argentina also wants to question her over the disappearance of two men.

'Ineffectual leader'

The Spanish court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to link Ms Peron to the disappearance of the two leftist activists in 1976.

It also said there was not enough evidence to show that she had anything to do with activities of the paramilitary squad - the Argentine Anti-communist Alliance.

Argentine investigators believe the squad kidnapped and killed about 1,500 government opponents, including politicians, lawyers and journalists.

Ms Peron, whose full name is Maria Estela Martinez de Peron, became the third wife of the three-times president of Argentina, Juan Domingo Peron several years after the death of his second wife, iconic Argentine first lady Eva Peron.

When Mr Peron died in office in 1974, his widow took over.

Historians say she was an ineffectual leader, manipulated by her ministers at a time when Argentina was wracked by violence involving left-wing guerrillas and right-wing death squads.

She was removed in a military coup in 1976 and held under house arrest for several years before moving to Spain in 1981.

An estimated 30,000 people were killed, or "disappeared", from 1976 to 1983, during the military's repression of alleged left-wing opponents, which came to be known as the "dirty war".


 

BBC NEWS

Legal Profession Becomes ‘More Dangerous Day by Day'

(New York, April 29, 2008) – Chinese lawyers who take cases seen by the government as politically sensitive or potentially embarrassing face severe abuses ranging from harassment to disbarment and physical assaults, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

In April 2008, for example, a group of lawyers who had publicly offered to defend Tibetan protesters were warned by the Chinese Ministry of Justice not to get involved or they would face disciplinary sanctions and jeopardize the renewal of their professional licenses for the year. Ministry officials contacted individual lawyers and heads of law firms who had made the offer and warned them that the cases of Tibetan protesters were "sensitive cases." The Ministry of Justice has the power to suspend the lawyers' licenses if they do not comply, and such threats are increasingly common for lawyers trying to take such "sensitive" cases.

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Spain rejects Peron Extradition

A court in Spain has rejected a request from Buenos Aires to extradite former Argentine President Isabel Peron who is wanted for alleged human rights abuses.
The National Court in Madrid ruled that the charges did not constitute crimes against humanity and that therefore the statute of limitations had expired. Ms Peron, 77, is wanted over alleged links to right-wing paramilitaries who operated during her 1974-1976 rule. Argentina also wants to question her over the disappearance of two men.

'Ineffectual leader'
The Spanish court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to link Ms Peron to the disappearance of the two leftist activists in 1976.It also said there was not enough evidence to show that she had anything to do with activities of the paramilitary squad - the Argentine Anti-communist Alliance. Argentine investigators believe the squad kidnapped and killed about 1,500 government opponents, including politicians, lawyers and journalists. Ms Peron, whose full name is Maria Estela Martinez de Peron, became the third wife of the three-times president of Argentina, Juan Domingo Peron several years after the death of his second wife, iconic Argentine first lady Eva Peron. When Mr Peron died in office in 1974, his widow took over. Historians say she was an ineffectual leader, manipulated by her ministers at a time when Argentina was wracked by violence involving left-wing guerrillas and right-wing death squads.

Source: BBC NEWS

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

No cause however great, be it a claim of liberation or national security justifies attacks on innocent civilians. The bottom line in any human discourse is the basic humanity of all human beings. Where this bottom line is crossed the boundary between humanity and inhumanity is breached. The Asian Human Rights Commission unequivocally condemns the placing of the bomb on a bus at Piliyandala killing 26 civilians and injuring 70 on April 25, which has been attributed to the LTTE. No amount of excuses on the basis that the Sri Lankan armed forces have engaged in similar acts of brutality towards Tamil civilians will minimize the senseless cruelty of this act. One act of inhumanity cannot be compensated by other acts of inhumanity. The argument that the opponent is as barbarous, or even more barbarous, than the proponent does not provide moral legitimisation of an action of the most despicable kind in targeting unsuspecting civilians engaged in the day to day affairs of their simple lives, and often difficult task of living.

Piliyandala, on the outskirts of Colombo is an area which is underdeveloped and most people living in such areas are poor. The commuters from this bus station to the inner parts of the country can also be presumed to be ordinary folk, who after a hard day of work, were returning to their homes. The targeting of these persons does not prove any other point than hopelessness, demoralization, backwardness and inhumanity. In a country where the law is respected this crime would have been considered a crime against humanity. Under the International Criminal Code (ICC) this act at Piliyandala would easily qualify as an act against humanity and would constitute a crime against humanity. Those who carried out the act and those who planned it, directly or indirectly, would be considered to have committed a grave crime under international law.

However, opening the discussion in this area will immediately lead to political attacks, as any talk of international law, the ICC and other forms of local or international legal liability for crimes against civilians, is considered the highest among the politically sensitive subjects in Sri Lanka. Those who raise such issues are considered traitors who wish to bring human rights monitors into the country or to expose the human rights problems in the country to international tribunals. Even the simpler criticisms made by the IIGEP were treated by the country's Attorney General himself as a 'sinister plot.

The question then arising is as how to prevent future actions such as the incident at Piliyandala and many other places. At the moment, from the point of view of law and law enforcement, there is no such possibility. The victims of the Piliyandala bomb blast, like all other civilian victims in the south, north and east, are destined to be denied justice. There will be the ritual of condemnations, the promise of investigations and some symbolic gestures of the increase of road checks and barriers. This is a ritual that all Sri Lankan's are familiar with, and the expectation of justice itself has ceased.

It is to this problem that the local people themselves and the concerned persons internationally must try to find a solution. Attacks on civilians by one party claiming it to be retaliation for the acts of the other party will continue to happen until the dead end of reason that the country has arrived at is broken by some means. There must be some room for reason if the inhumanity that goes on in the name of the conflict is to be reduced and eliminated. The Asian Human Rights Commission regrets that it cannot suggest anything more at this moment other than to appeal to the reason of the people of Sri Lanka and those who are genuinely concerned about the preservation of human decency in civilisation to give their thoughts to the crisis faced in this country.

For further information please refer to our previous statement and UPI article:

Human lives matter at:

http://www.upiasiaonline.com/Human_Rights/2008/01/18/human_lives_matter/7158/

SRI LANKA: New Year and the loss of meaning in personal tragedy at:

http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2008statements/1459/

“No queremos ser canjeables”

“Vamos a desenmascarar a las FARC ”, dice convencido Olivio Saldaña, un hombre que se adhirió a las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) cuando era adolescente y hoy cumple condena en la cárcel La Picota de Bogotá por secuestros, extorsiones y homicidios.

Saldaña es uno de los 650 guerrilleros —de los 1.700 que están en prisión— que se declaran en rebeldía: según Saldaña, piensan “salir al paso” del intercambio humanitario que plantea el canje de secuestrados políticos en manos del grupo guerrillero por insurgentes. Se han organizado en un movimiento, al que han llamado Manos por la Paz..

Para oficializarlo, han puesto su firma y su huella en un formulario mediante el cual renuncian a la militancia política y armada de las FARC y autorizan a Luduine Zumpolle —una ciudadana holandesa ex directora de la ONG Pax Christi— a tramitar ante el Gobierno su desmovilización. No quieren ser sujetos de canje, porque no quieren regresar a las filas guerrilleras.

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