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Siege and Bombardment of Syria’s Aleppo constitute Crimes of Historic proportions, says United Nations

The Russian ambassador accuses Britain and its allies of protecting terrorists from destruction

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People inspect the damage as a civilian walks near blood stains at a market hit by air strikes in Aleppo's rebel-held al-Fardous district, Syria, Oct. 12, 2016. VOA

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein says the siege and bombardment of Syria’s northern city of eastern Aleppo constitute crimes of historic proportions. He is calling on the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.

Zeid says well over 300,000 Syrians have been killed and countless others wounded and traumatised in the course of more than five years of civil war. He says the relentless bombardment of Aleppo has turned the ancient city into a slaughterhouse.

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Without mentioning Russia by name, the high commissioner blames the indiscriminate airstrikes across the eastern rebel-held part of Aleppo by government forces and their allies for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties.

He says the violations constitute war crimes and calls for those guilty of international crimes to be held accountable.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, chair of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, agrees all parties to the conflict guilty of crimes must be brought to justice. VOA
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, chair of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, agrees all parties to the conflict guilty of crimes must be brought to justice. VOA

“Perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity will only cease to violate the laws of war when it is clear they will be held to account,” he said. “This why referral of the conflict in Syria to the ICC (International Criminal Court) or an ad hoc international justice mechanism is critical to resolving this conflict.”

People remove belongings from a damaged site after an air strike Sunday in the rebel-held besieged al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 17, 2016. VOA
People remove belongings from a damaged site after an air strike Sunday in the rebel-held besieged al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 17, 2016. VOA

Pinheiro says members of the investigative commission will continue to document war crimes in Aleppo. The British minister for Africa and the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, launched a blistering attack on Syria and Russia.

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“Hospitals have been bombed repeatedly. Hundreds of civilians, many of them children, have been killed since the (Bashar) Assad regime and Russia launched their assault on Eastern Aleppo.”

The Russian ambassador accuses Britain and its allies of protecting terrorists from destruction and allowing them to regroup so they can continue what he calls their barbaric acts. The Syrian representative calls Britain’s accusations baseless and fabricated to enhance its political agenda. (VOA)

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North Korea Economy: Private Markets Target of Corruption, Human Rights Abuses

North Korea’s state-run rationing system collapsed in the mid-1990s amid a devastating famine and economic crisis

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North Korea, Economy, Private Markets
UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea, Tomas Ojea Quintana gestures as he attends a press conference, June 7, 2018 in Geneva. VOA

North Koreans eking out a living in the country’s thriving, informal private markets are regularly subjected to corruption and various forms of human rights abuses, according to a new United Nations report.

North Korea’s state-run rationing system collapsed in the mid-1990s amid a devastating famine and economic crisis, leading to the creation of unofficial commercial markets in the socialist regime.

North Korea, Economy, Private Markets
Informal private markets are regularly subjected to corruption and various forms of human rights abuses, according to a new United Nations report. Pixabay

The report by the U.N.’s Office of Human Rights says the failure to legitimize these markets has exposed ordinary North Koreans to potential arrest, prosecution and detention. Corrupt, low-paid officials use the threat of arrest to extort bribes from people with the ability and willingness to pay.

The U.N. report was based on interviews from 214 North Koreans who have defected from the regime and resettled in South Korea.

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The report blames the situation on the priority the regime places on supporting its military and developing its nuclear weapons program over adequately providing for its people. (VOA)