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U.N. Urges Egypt To Halt All Executions Based On Confessions Obtained Against Torture

“There is significant cause for concern that due process and fair trial guarantees may not have been followed in some or all of these cases, and that the very serious allegations concerning the use of torture were not properly investigated,” Colville said.

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Family members of those convicted and executed for the killing of public prosecutor Hisham Barakat gather at Zynhom morgue in Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 20, 2019, as they wait for their bodies to be released. VOA

The U.N. Human Rights Office is urging Egypt to halt all executions and to conduct investigations into all allegations that people are subjected to the death penalty based on confessions obtained under torture.

Egypt has executed 15 people in February and the U.N. Human Rights Office notes the month is not yet over. The agency reports nine people were executed this week in a case related to the killing of Egypt’s General Prosecutor, Hisham Barakat.

Regarding six other killings earlier this month, it says three men were convicted of assassinating a police officer and three others in connection with the murder of the son of a judge.

Human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said in all cases the defendants have told the court they were subjected to torture to make them confess to the crimes of which they were accused.

FILE - A defendant is seen caged in a courtroom in Torah prison, southern Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 22, 2015.
A defendant is seen caged in a courtroom in Torah prison, southern Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 22, 2015. VOA

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In June 2017, the U.N. Committee against Torture completed a four-year confidential inquiry and concluded that torture is “practiced systematically” in Egypt. Colville told VOA the recent allegations of torture, in almost all of these cases, come against this well-established backdrop that torture is endemic in Egypt.

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“If torture was used to make a confession a considerable part of the prosecution’s case, then that should not be admitted in court. That confession produced under torture should not be admissible. And when these allegations have been brought up by the defense lawyers and so on, our belief is they are not being taken seriously enough by the courts,” he said.

Colville said a number of individuals convicted under similar circumstances in Egypt have exhausted all legal proceedings. He says they currently are on death row at imminent risk of execution. (VOA)

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UN Urges Asian Countries to Make Transition to Clean Energy to Curb Global Climate Crisis

There is an extraordinary global focus in what is going on in Southeast Asia, and Asia more broadly, and it really is in this region where we will succeed

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Rachel Kyte, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sustainable Energy and head of Sustainable Energy for All, and Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit, made this request in a video conference with journalists from Indonesia. Pixabay

The UN on Friday urged Asian countries, which have more than two-thirds of the world’s 2,400 coal plants, to make a transition to clean energy to curb the global climate crisis.

Rachel Kyte, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy and head of Sustainable Energy for All, and Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit, made this request in a video conference with journalists from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea.

“There is an extraordinary global focus in what is going on in Southeast Asia, and Asia more broadly, and it really is in this region where we will succeed or failed in the energy transition” from fossil fuels to renewable energy, Kyte was quoted as saying by Efe news.

Kyte defended the financial viability, even for developing nations, of ceasing the construction of new coal-based plants by 2020, as urged by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

UN, Asian Countries, Clean Energy
The UN on Friday urged Asian countries, which have more than two-thirds of the world’s 2,400 coal plants, to make a transition to clean energy to curb the global climate crisis. Pixabay

“There is really no future for coal, it is not competitive by price over the life cycle or an investment in power generation and it has such an extreme impact in human health as well as in the planet,” the UN expert said.

China tops the list of countries in the world with the highest number of coal-based plants under construction with 132, followed by India (with 33) Indonesia (23), Japan (15), Vietnam (9) and the Philippines (8), according to watchdog group Global Energy Monitor.

China also has 1,032 coal-fired power plants in operation, followed by the US with 296 and India with 291, the report said.

Kyte said that coal financing has become increasingly difficult due to opposition from international development banks and some private banks, which has led to the construction of many power plant projects being cancelled, although there are still others planned.

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The expert also stressed the need to invest in more efficient energy systems as 40 per cent of emissions can be prevented through appropriate technology and advocated an end to fossil fuel subsidies.

Meanwhile, Luis de Alba said he was working on financing packages to support the energy transition.

The UN representatives also invited governments to present concrete and long-term energy proposals during the climate summit in New York on September 23. (IANS)