Geneva, September 14, 2017 : U.N. experts says thousands of migrants are at high risk of enforced disappearance. A special report by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances accuses states and the international community at large of turning a blind eye to the crime, which generally goes unreported and unpunished.
The report, presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, finds a direct link between enforced disappearances and migration. In some cases, it says, individuals may migrate because they may be at risk of enforced disappearance from their own governments or they could be abducted during their journey for political or other reasons.
It explains enforced disappearances can occur when a migrant is in detention or going through a deportation process. It can be a consequence of smuggling or trafficking.
While the phenomenon is widespread, the vice chairman of the Working Group on Enforced Disappearance, Bernard Duhaime, told VOA it is not possible to document its scale and scope. That is because the practice is hidden and takes place in secret.
He adds it occurs in almost all parts of the world. For example, he notes cases of enforced disappearances in Libya and among refugees fleeing Syria.
“There are similar instances in South Asia, as well, in particular with the phenomenon of the migration of the Rohingyas. There are also examples documented … migrants crossing through Central America and through Mexico, as well who disappear.… The report refers to networks of traffickers and smugglers in Sudan, Eritrea – in that region, as well,” Duhaime said.
Experts warn the increasingly dangerous routes migrants follow expose them to greater risk of becoming victims of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances.
The report calls on governments to gather all information about people who disappear in or while transiting their countries and to do what they can to locate missing migrants. (VOA)
"More than 70 countries around the world today still criminalise same-sex relations, and in some of them the death penalty may be applied," believes Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN' first independent expert on the rights of LGBT
United Nations, October 28, 2017 : Immediate action is needed to stop human rights violations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, a UN human rights expert has said.
“It is unconscionable that people with an actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression different from a particular social norm are targeted for violence and discrimination in many parts of the world,” said Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN’ first independent expert on the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.
“LGBT people are suffering a crucible of egregious violations, including killings, rape, mutilation, torture, arbitrary detention, abduction, harassment, physical and mental assaults.
“They are subjected to lashings and forced surgical interventions, bullying from a young age, incitement to hatred and pressures leading to suicide,” he told the UN General Assembly on Friday.
“More than 70 countries around the world today still criminalise same-sex relations, and in some of them the death penalty may be applied,” Xinhua quoted Muntarbhorn as saying.
Even where there is no law criminalising consensual same-sex relations, laws on public decency, public order and social peace are used to incriminate people under the umbrella of sexual orientation, gender identity and related gender expression, he noted.
Muntarbhorn who is from Thailand said all laws criminalising same-sex relationships should be removed from the statute books, and no other legal measures should be used to target sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for the purpose of consolidating power and suppressing dissent.
It was also imperative to remove the death penalty for all cases related to the criminalization of sexual orientation, gender identity and related gender expression, he stressed.
“There is a need for effective anti-discrimination measures covering both the public and private spheres. Not only formal but substantive, not only de jure but also de facto, in addition to the building of a community open to understanding and respecting sexual and gender diversity,” said the expert.
To be effective, anti-discrimination frameworks should provide for effective measures to investigate alleged violations, redress for victims and accountability for alleged perpetrators, he said.
Muntarbhorn also expressed concern that human rights defenders were being increasingly targeted for their work in raising issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. (IANS)
United Nations, October 17, 2017 : Fifteen countries, including Pakistan, have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly.
In a vote on Monday, Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were elected, a Foreign Office statement said.
They will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018. (IANS)
Cyprus, September 14, 2017 : After more than a year of separation, Syrian refugee Ammar Hammasho was finally, albeit briefly, reunited with his wife and four children through a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire in Cyprus.
Hammasho, who is from the war-ravaged Idlib region, fell to his knees and kissed each of his three eldest children through the three-meter-high barrier encircling a migrant reception center at Kokkinotrimithia, west of the Cypriot capital Nicosia.
The youngest son of the Syrian refugee, Jumah — named after their second-born who was killed in an air raid in 2015 — was held up by his wife, Shamuos. He kissed the protracted palm of Sham, his tiny daughter, who was dressed in a black frock neatly tucked in at the waist with a belt, small white jacket and pink sandals.
“The policeman told me to wait half an hour to finish the count. I couldn’t wait, I saw the kids through the fence and I did this,” he said, waving his hands over his head.
“The kids ran over. I just wanted to see them, for my heart to go back into its place,” the 34-year-old construction worker told Reuters on Wednesday.
The reunion came on Sunday, just hours after Hammasho’s wife and their children — aged 7, 5, 4 and 18 months — came ashore with 300 other Syrians in northwestern Cyprus after a 24-hour trip on a small boat from Mersin in Turkey, in what was one of the largest mass landings on the island since the Syrian war began.
Hammasho knew his family was trying to leave Syria, but didn’t know precisely when.
“When I read on the internet that about 250 were heading to Cyprus I knew it was them,” he said with a smile.
‘I will go home’ after war
Hammasho had taken a similar route one year ago, landing in Cyprus on Sept. 6, 2016. Working as a construction worker, he managed to amass the $6,000 to pay a trafficker to get his family to Cyprus.
He now has “subsidiary” protection status, which is one step short of being recognized as a refugee.
“I’m told they will be back with me on Friday, or maybe Sunday,” Hammasho said from a tiny bedsit in Limassol, a sprawling coastal city 100 km (60 miles) away from the reception camp.
Speaking in the distinct Cypriot Greek dialect, he has the benefit of language and friends, having already worked four years in Cyprus from 2004 to 2008.
“I thought the minute I left [in 2008], that would be that. I built a house [in Syria]. I got married. I bought a field. Sixteen skales,” he said, using a Cypriot measurement term to describe his 1.6 hectares.
“I worked day and night, do you understand? Now I [still] have a field. But my house is dust.”
Hammasho’s second-eldest child, Jumah, was almost five when he was killed. Remaining in Syria was simply not an option, he said.
“Look, in Syria right now you cannot live a life. I don’t have a home. I lost a baby. … I don’t want to dirty my hands with blood, do you understand?
“If you want to eat bread … you have to have blood on your hands. You have to be either a jihadist, or be with [President Bashar al-] Assad, or anyone else, and steal or kill. And if you start that, you are finished. That is what life is like there now. I can’t do it. There are those who can.”
The table is strewn with his identification papers and the classified sections of newspapers, pinned down by an untouched pot of Arabic coffee.
His bedsit is small. Hammasho is looking for a house so he and his family can start anew. But he says it will only be temporary until the family can return to Syria one day.
“As soon as it stops, I’m leaving. I will go back to my field. I have a machine to extract water. I have fields to water. It’s my country and I will go home.” (VOA)