UN committee reaffirms Saharawi peoples' "inalienable right" to self-determination

The UN Decolonisation Committee reaffirmed its belief that self-determination and independence are the inalienable right of all people on Monday with particular reference to the people of Western Sahara, currently living under Moroccan rule. South Africa's representative condemned the UN's inaction over the issue, describing the UN as "paralysed". Highlighting the thirty year delay in the referendum, originally mandated by the UN Security Council, he called for a renewed affort to hold such a referendum. Timor-Leste's representative, comparing Western Sahara's struggle for self-determinatnion...

Pakistan pledges support to Kashmiri autonomy

Pakistani prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, reiterated the country's support for Kashmiri autonomy. Addressing a crowd gathered for a session of the Council of Pakistan controlled Kashmir, held in Islamabad on Wednesday, Gilani said, "The government and people of Pakistan will always stand by their Kashmiri brethren in their quest for self-determination and continue to extend their full political, moral and diplomatic support to them ." “The Kashmir cause was close to the hearts of every Pakistani and their commitment to their cause of self-determination was unwavering ,” he added. Gilani...

Govt. interference causes judge to quit Cambodia tribunal

A German judge has resigned from his role working in an UN-backed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia, citing interference from the Government of Cambodia. The judge, Siegfried Blunk, described "repeated statements which will be perceived as attempted interference by government officials". Whilst stating that he would not by swayed by such opposition, he said his "ability to withstand such pressure by government officials and to perform his duties independently could always be called in doubt." Pressure has been placed on the tribunal to halt proceedings by current Cambodian Prime Minister and former Khmer Rouge commander Hun Sen, who left the movement before its collapse. He allegedly said further trials, beyond what was currently taking place “was not allowed”. Blunk also quoted the Cambodian information minister, who he claimed said that judges who wanted to pursue further cases should “pack their bags and leave.” The move comes a week after criticism from Human Rights Watch for failing "to conduct genuine, impartial and effective investigations" into what are known as Case 003 and 004.

UN report - 'systematic torture' by Afghan security services

Afghan intelligence services and national police are accused of “ a compelling pattern and practice of systematic torture and ill-treatment ” of detainees in an UN report released on Monday. The report detailed the “ use of interrogation methods, including suspension, beatings, electric shock, stress positions and threatened sexual assault ", highlighted that such practices are " unacceptable by any standard of international human rights law .” Acting on a draft of the report earlier this year, NATO forces stopped the transfer of suspected insurgents to security sites that had been identified...

US lawmakers push to halt arms sales to Bahrain

Two US lawmakers have introduced resolutions into both houses of Congress preventing the sale of weapons to Bahrain, "until meaningful steps are taken to improve human rights". US Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and US Representative James McGovern of Massachusetts, both Democrats, both urged the US to halt any sale of weapons to Bahrain, stating that it was “antiethical”. On a statement posted on his website, Wyden said , "Selling weapons to a regime that is violently suppressing peaceful civil dissent and violating human rights is antithetical to our foreign policy goals and the principle of...

Syria warns against recognition of opposition

Syria has threatened countries who recognise the recently formed opposition council with ‘tough measures’. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem did not elaborate what those measures may constitute, but speaking at a press conference in Damascus, he warned that foreign embassies in Syria may be targeted. Criticising recent attacks on Syrian embassies in Europe by Syrian demonstrators , he called for more security around embassy premises. "Frankly, if they didn't commit themselves to the items of this convention, we will take retaliatory measures," he said. "We don't interfere in their internal...

South Sudan chooses English as its official language

Photo AFP After decades of Arabisation and Islamisation by the Khartoum government, newly independent South Sudan, predominantly Christian and African, has opted for English as its official language. See the BBC’s report here . " English will make us different and modern. From now on all our laws, textbooks and official documents have to be written in that language. Schools, the police, retail and the media must all operate in English ." - Edward Mokole , Ministry of Higher Education " With English, we can become one nation. We can iron out our tribal differences and communicate with the rest...

Sudan & South Sudan leaders commit to end disputes

Leaders from Sudan and the newly formed South Sudan have set deadlines to resolve outstanding issues of tensions between the two and have committed to resolving their problems peacefully. On his first official visit to Sudan, South Sudan President Salva Kiir met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, to discuss problems between the two nations, including the future of the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei and how to share the much needed oil revenue between the two nations. Kiir told reporters in a joint news conference that, "My government is ready to discuss solutions for all pending...

US apologises for rape by soldier in South Korea

The US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, publicly apologised for the rape of a South Korean woman by a US soldier. The soldier was handed over to South Korean authorities by the US Second Infantry Divsion, deployed by the border with North Korea. The US military have introduced a curfew on all its soldiers deployed in the country for one month in response to the incident. In a statement Campbell said, " I'd like to personally and on behalf of the United States government take this opportunity to apologise to the Korean people for the tragic and...

HRW accuses Ouattara of war crimes

Human Rights Watch have accused both parties to Ivory Coast’s unrest after elections of war crimes. Military leaders, including those under the command of President Alassane Ouattara, are said to have executed civilians and raped women during the violence. The government’s failure to charge those loyal to Ouattara over the crimes set the stage for ‘victor’s justice’, said HRW. The four military leaders loyal to Ouattara are still in active service and one has been promoted by the President as second-in-command for presidential security. "What looks to be right now one-sided or victor's...

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