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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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Egypt
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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Starting With The 2024 Hurricane Season, U.S. Meteorologists Replaces Hurricane Names Florence, Michael

The United Nations' World Meteorological Organization maintains six lists with 21 names each that are organized alphabetically and alternate between male and female names.

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Hurricane
A hog farm is inundated with floodwaters from Hurricane Florence near Trenton, North Carolina, Sept. 16, 2018. VOA

Hurricanes Florence and Michael, which caused widespread death and destruction in the United States last year, have earned the dubious distinction of having their names retired.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that the two names will be replaced with Francine and Milton, starting with the 2024 hurricane season.

Damage caused by Hurricane Michael is seen in Mexico Beach, Florida, U.S., October 16, 2018.
Damage caused by Hurricane Michael is seen in Mexico Beach, Florida, U.S., October 16, 2018. VOA

The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization maintains six lists with 21 names each that are organized alphabetically and alternate between male and female names.

cyclone
Names are retired when meteorologists determine that a hurricane has been so destructive that reusing its name would be insensitive. Pixabay

Each list is used once every six years. The current group goes from 2018 to 2023, with the cycle restarting in 2024.

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Names are retired when meteorologists determine that a hurricane has been so destructive that reusing its name would be insensitive.

The first hurricane name to be retired was Carol, in 1954. So far, 88 names have been dropped from the list. (VOA)