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UN Human Rights expert asks Pakistani Authorities to locate and Protect 4 Disappeared Activists

Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, Salman Haider and Ahmed Raza Naseer  are the four  activists who went missing this month

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FILE -(representational image) Pakistani villagers living at the Line of Control between Pakistan-Indian Kashmir, Chakoti, build concrete house in Pakistan, Nov. 21, 2016. VOA

United Nations, Jan 12, 2017: An expert of United Nations human rights asked the Pakistani authorities to make it a top priority to locate and protect four disappeared human rights and social media campaigners, saying no government should tolerate attacks on its citizens.

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“I strongly urge the Government of Pakistan to take every step possible to locate the four missing activists, a first step toward re-emphasizing its commitment to freedom of expression at the beginning of the year,” said David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression, in a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, Salman Haider and Ahmed Raza Naseer  are the four  activists who went missing this month. They had been accused of promoting blasphemy, a criminal offense in Pakistan.

The human rights expert said “No government should tolerate attacks on its citizens.”

“By making the investigation of these disappearances an urgent priority, the Pakistani authorities can send a strong signal that they take seriously the responsibility for the life and security of all of its citizens, particularly in cases involving freedom of expression.”

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“Free expression campaigners and experts have long called for the abolition of criminal blasphemy provisions in Pakistan, which may carry the death penalty,” Kaye said to PTI.

“Not only are such laws incompatible with international human rights law, but they also facilitate threats by state and non-state actors seeking to target expression.”

The Special Rapporteur stressed that “all States have an obligation to promote a diverse space and culture for expression, but such culture does not create itself.

prepared by Saptaparni Goon of NewsGram. Twitter: @saptaparni_goon

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Toxicity in Air Affects Children’s Brain Development: UNICEF

UNICEF has warned that air pollution affects a child's brain development

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Brain Development
According to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, air pollution toxicity can affect children's brain development. Pixabay

Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore has warned that air pollution toxicity can affect children’s brain development and called for urgent action to deal with the crisis gripping India and South Asia.

“I saw first-hand how children continue to suffer from the dire consequences of air pollution,” Fore, who recently visited India, said on Wednesday.

“The air quality was at a crisis level. You could smell the toxic fog even from behind an air filtration mask,” she added.

Air pollution affects children most severely and its effects continue all their lives because they have smaller lungs, breathe twice as fast as adults and lack immunities, Fore said.

Brain Development
Air pollution damages brain tissue and undermines brain development in babies and young children. Pixabay

She added that it “damages brain tissue and undermines cognitive development in babies and young children, leading to lifelong consequences that can affect their learning outcomes and future potential. There is evidence to suggest that adolescents exposed to higher levels of air pollution are more likely to experience mental health problems”.

“Unicef is calling for urgent action to address this air quality crisis,” affecting 620 million children in South Asia.

Also Read- Snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir to Help Bring Pollution Down in Neighbouring States

Schools were closed in Delhi till Tuesday because of the severe environmental situation caused by post-harvest burning of stubble in neighbouring states.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Sunday touched 625, considered “severe plus” level. (IANS)