Bahraini child political prisoner’s letter


This video is about a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, where a letter by a Bahraini child political prisoner was read.

From the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy:

#HRC27: Letter from Bahraini Child Political Prisoner Read at the Council

On 16 September, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy’s Advocacy Associate, Amanda Milani, read a letter from Bahraini child political prisoner, Jehad Sadeq, during an oral intervention at the 27th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva under Item 3. Please continue reading for full remarks or click here to download a PDF.

Jehad Sadeq

Text of the Intervention

“Thank you, Mr. President,

Alsalam Foundation, acting in coordination with Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, would like to present to the Human Rights Council excerpts from a letter written by Jehad Sadeq, a Bahraini youth currently imprisoned on charges of terrorism. Mr. Sadeq alleges that he was convicted on the basis of a confession obtained by means of torture, and that the Government of Bahrain has failed to investigate his allegations as required by the Convention against Torture.

Dear Honored Delegates,

I was arrested while participating in a peaceful protest when I was 16 years old. During interrogation, I was beaten and humiliated until I confessed. I wasn’t allowed to contact my family, and my lawyer was not allowed to attend my interrogations. Despite this, my trial went on, and I was tried under terrorism law although I was a child. I was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for a crime I did not commit.

My hobbies were photography, sports and traveling… I wished to graduate from high school and go to university with my friends to study engineering. Instead, I was deprived from doing what I love and pursuing my education. I would have now been in my freshman year at university, not in prison. I should be a student, not a political prisoner.

In Bahraini prisons there are many cases similar to mine. Therefore, in this letter, I’m addressing you on behalf of all detained children. I appeal to you to help us and act for our case by advising and pressuring the Bahraini government to release me and all other children that languish in prisons.

My friends and I will be waiting eagerly for your reply and your help to have us released.

Sincerely,

Jehad Sadeq

On the occasion of the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council, the above-named human rights organizations join with Jehad Sadeq in calling upon the Bahraini government to release all child political prisoners in the country.

Thank you.”

United Nations condemn U.S. police brutality


This music video from the USA is called G.A.G.E. – I Am Mike Brown (Tribute).

From Reuters news agency:

UN Condemns U.S. Police Brutality, Calls For ‘Stand Your Ground’ Review

By Stephanie Nebehay

Posted: 08/30/2014 8:31 am EDT

* Panel issues recommendations after review of U.S. record

* Says killing of Michael Brownnot an isolated event

* Decries racial bias of police, pervasive discrimination

* ACLU calls for addressing racial inequality in America

GENEVA, Aug 29 – The U.N. racism watchdog urged the United States on Friday to halt the excessive use of force by police after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman touched off riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

Minorities, particularly African Americans, are victims of disparities, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) said after examining the U.S. record.

“Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing,” Noureddine Amir, CERD committee vice chairman, told a news briefing.

Teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer on Aug. 9, triggering violent protests that rocked Ferguson – a St. Louis suburb – and shone a global spotlight on the state of race relations in America.

“The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities is an ongoing issue of concern and particularly in light of the shooting of Michael Brown,” said Amir, an expert from Algeria.

“This is not an isolated event and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials.”

The panel of 18 independent experts grilled a senior U.S. delegation on Aug. 13 about what they said was persistent racial discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities, including within the criminal justice system.

U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper told the panel that his nation had made “great strides toward eliminating racial discrimination” but conceded that “we have much left to do”.

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown, has been put on paid leave and is in hiding. A St. Louis County grand jury has begun hearing evidence and the U.S. Justice Department has opened its own investigation.

Police have said Brown struggled with Wilson when shot. But some witnesses say Brown held up his hands and was surrendering when he was shot multiple times in the head and chest.

“STAND YOUR GROUND” LAWS

In its conclusions issued on Friday, the U.N. panel said “Stand Your Ground” Laws, a controversial self-defense statute in 22 U.S. states, should be reviewed to “remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to principles of necessity and proportionality when deadly force is used for self-defense”.

Ron Davis, father of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old shot dead in a car in Jacksonville, Florida during an argument over loud rap music in November 2012, attended the Geneva session. Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen killed in Miami, Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, testified.

The U.N. panel monitors compliance with a treaty ratified by 177 countries including the United States.

“The Committee remains concerned at the practice of racial profiling of racial or ethnic minorities by law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration, border enforcement officials and local police,” it said, urging investigations.

The experts called for addressing obstacles faced by minorities and indigenous peoples to exercise their right to vote effectively. This was due to restrictive voter identification laws, district gerrymandering and state-level laws that disenfranchise people convicted of felonies, it said.

Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the U.N. recommendations highlighted “shortcomings on racial equality that we are seeing play out today on our streets, at our borders and in the voting booth.

“When it comes to human rights, the United States must practice at home what it preaches abroad,” he said.

For the second time in less than a month, the New York City Medical Examiner’s office determined that New York Police Department officers were criminally responsible for a man’s death. A spokeswoman announced Friday that the death of Ron Singleton was a homicide attributable to “physical restraint by police.” Singleton, a 45-year-old worker, was killed by police officers on July 13 after being taken into custody as an “emotionally disturbed person”: here.

The death of a 22-year-old Louisiana man who was in police custody at the time has become a new focus of national attention. Victor White III of New Iberia, Louisiana, about 130 miles west of New Orleans, is the third young man to die in a series of “Houdini handcuff” suicides that have occurred across the country over a two-year span: here.

More wildlife conservation needed, United Nations say


This video is called Science Matters: The Genetics of Wildlife Conservation.

From the United Nations Environment Programme:

Global Protection Proposed for Sharks, Rays, Sawfish, Polar Bears and Lions

Fri, Jun 13, 2014

Fate of iconic species lies in the balance as key wildlife conservation conference countdown commences

Bonn, Germany, 13 June 2014 – Some of the world’s most endangered species, many of them migratory, are facing unprecedented threats from climate change and habitat destruction to overexploitation and pollution. This has led to a number of new listing proposals for consideration at the Convention on Migratory Species Convention of the Parties, a key international wildlife conference scheduled to take place 4-9 November 2014 in Quito, Ecuador.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) administered Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or the “Bonn Convention”) is the only global convention protecting species that move across international boundaries. Every three years it holds an international meeting of all its members – the CMS Convention of the Parties (COP) – to agree on internationally coordinated conservation measures for the world’s migratory species and to decide which species should be protected under its two Appendices.

The deadline for listing proposals for CMS COP11 was 6 June and a total of 32 species have been proposed for listing into Appendix I, which requires strict protection, and Appendix II, which requires coordinated management by the countries in which the species migrate.

Among the listing proposals received from countries for CMS COP11 are a large number of shark and ray species including two types of Hammerhead shark, the Silky shark, three species of thresher sharks, the Reef Manta Ray along with nine Mobula Ray species. In addition, five species of sawfishes, some of which are critically endangered, have been proposed for listing.

“One of the clear messages indicated by the listing proposals is that CMS Parties deem the plight of sharks to be so serious that they proposed over twenty species of sharks and rays for listing. It might also be seen as a vote of confidence in CMS as a forum in which to advance the global conservation of sharks, but also for an increasing number of other threatened migratory species of wild animals”, said Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of CMS.

Other species put forward by individual CMS Parties for consideration by CMS COP11 include the Polar Bear, which is under major threat from climate change, and the African Lion, which has seen a 30 per cent decrease in population over the last two decades as a result of habitat loss and other man-made threats. Also proposed is the European Eel, which is threatened by overfishing and dams.

Other issues that will be discussed at CMS COP11 in Quito include the illegal hunting of elephants, which are being driven to the brink of extinction with about a hundred elephants being poached every day. This is also a topic that will be high on the agenda of the first ever United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) later this month, and which has also been the subject of a number of major Heads of State summits recently.

Other issues affecting migratory species that will be discussed at CMS COP11 in November include climate change, marine debris, the effects of renewable energy installations on migratory species and illegal bird trapping.

The Chair of the CMS Standing Committee, Professor Alfred Oteng-Yeboah of Ghana, said: “The CMS COP comes in the middle of a busy period in the international environmental calendar. The Convention on Biological Diversity is holding its COP the month before in Korea and the IUCN World Parks Congress takes place in Sydney shortly afterwards. It will be the first time in the 35-year existence of CMS that the COP has taken place in the Americas. We are expecting the Conference to attract leading decision-makers from a wide range of governments, international organizations and civil society”.

Species covered by CMS are extremely diverse, ranging from the Blue Whale and the African Elephant to gazelles, sea turtles, sharks, a variety of birds from albatrosses, birds of prey, waterbirds and songbirds, to the Monarch Butterfly.

By signing the Convention, the 120 Parties to CMS recognize that these wild animals in their innumerable forms are an irreplaceable part of the Earth’s natural system which must be conserved for the good of mankind.

The details of the agenda of the forthcoming CMS COP11 – which is being held under the theme, “Time for Action” – are beginning to emerge. The full list of species proposed for inclusion into the CMS Appendices to be decided by governments includes three terrestrial mammals, two marine mammals, five birds and 22 fish. All proposals submitted by individual CMS Parties can be found on the CMS website at: http://www.cms.int

Notes for Editors

Key CMS COP11 Listing Proposals:

The African Lion, whose numbers have declined by 30 per cent in the last two decades, has been proposed for inclusion on Appendix II. Only about 40,000 animals remain from an estimated 100,000 in 1900 in no more than 25 per cent of their historical range. Only one isolated population of the Asiatic Lion, which has been proposed for inclusion on Appendix I, still exists in India (Gujarat State) with about 175 adult animals.

The Polar Bear, an apex predator that spends much of each year on the sea ice hunting, covers distances of up to 1,000 kilometres. It is now proposed for listing on Appendix II. A global perspective, including the better understanding of the impacts of climate change on Polar Bears, could be added to the conservation policies that countries in the region have worked on for decades.

Two species of Hammerhead shark – the Great and the Scalloped – have been proposed for inclusion on Appendix II. Noted for their distinctively shaped heads from which they derive their name, Hammerhead Sharks have undergone dramatic declines in recent years – as much as 99 per cent for some populations. Other shark species proposed for inclusion in Appendix II are the Silky shark, and three species of thresher shark.

The Reef Manta Ray along with nine Mobula or Eagle ray species is proposed for listing in both Appendices. In several regions, populations of the Reef Manta Ray have declined up to as much as 80 per cent over the last three generations, or about 75 years. The main threats are targeted and incidental fishing. Manta ray products have a high value in international trade markets.

Five species of sawfishes, some of which are critically endangered, have been proposed for listing on Appendix I and II. The listing proposals coincided with the launch of a global strategy for the conservation of sawfishes by the Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the Sharks International Conference in Durban, South Africa last week. This proposal brings the total number of shark and ray species submitted to 21.

The European Eel, which has unique migration patterns spanning a geographic range from European rivers to the Sargasso Sea in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, is threatened by overfishing and dams being obstacles to migration is already subject to protection measures under European Union Law.

The Great Bustard, one of the largest flying birds of the world, has been proposed for Appendix I. It is already listed in both Appendices. The proposal to list the global population on Appendix I removes the existing geographical restriction to the Middle European population.

CMS – the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals is an environmental treaty under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats. CMS brings together the States through which migratory animals pass to agree on internationally coordinated conservation measures for a wide range of endangered migratory animals worldwide. CMS is a growing convention with special importance due to its expertise in the field of migratory species. At present, there are 120 Parties to the Convention. Further information: http://www.cms.int

COP – the Conference of the Parties is the main decision-making body of the Convention, which meets every three years to adopt the budget, Strategic Plan and policy decisions including amendments to the Convention’s two Appendices. COP11 is taking place in Quito, Ecuador, at the invitation of the Government of Ecuador in November – the first time the Parties will have met in the Americas. More details on the COP11 agenda will be posted on the CMS website as they become available.

Professor Alfred Oteng-Yeboah of the Department of Botany at the University of Ghana is the current Chair of the CMS Standing Committee; his term comes to an end at the end of COP11. He also serves as the COP-appointed Scientific Councilor for African Fauna and is also a member of the Bureau of the recently established Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

IUCN Global Sawfish Strategy – The Shark Specialist Group (SSG) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has released a global strategy to prevent extinction and promote recovery of sawfishes, which have been devastated worldwide by overfishing and habitat loss.

For further information: http://www.dulvy.com/global-sawfish-conservation-strategy.html

For more information please contact:

Florian Keil, Information Officer and Coordinator of the Common Information Management, Communication and Outreach Team of the UNEP/CMS and UNEP/AEWA Secretariats, tel: +49 228 815 2451, mail: florian.keil@unep.org

Veronika Lenarz, UNEP/CMS Secretariat, Public Information & Media, tel: +49 228 815 2409, mail: vlenarz@cms.int

United Nations criticize Vatican about child abuse


This video says about itself:

The Vatican answers to the UN Committee Against TortureCCR and SNAP report back

6 May 2014

Greetings from Geneva where, this Monday and Tuesday, the United Nations Committee Against Torture will question the Vatican about its record on child sexual violence.

This is the second time this year the Vatican has been called by an international body to account for its handling of the crisis of sexual violence throughout the Catholic Church. CCR will be there again with our clients, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), to attend the proceedings and report back to survivors, advocates, and supporters via live stream. Tune in to our report-back on Tuesday, May 6, at 8:30 pm CET (2:30 pm EST).

You can follow the global conversation about this historic hearing on Twitter using the hashtag #VaticanAccountability and ask questions before or during the report-back by tweeting to the hashtag or emailing your questions to askCCR@ccrjustice.org. We will answer as many as possible during the live stream.

Throughout the world, children and vulnerable adults have been and continue to be subjected to widespread and systemic rape and sexual violence by priests and others associated with the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican’s policies and practices enable this violence. The Committee Against Torture has been clear that rape and sexual violence constitute forms of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. In April, SNAP and CCR submitted reports to the Committee, detailing how the Vatican has violated the core principles of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, which it ratified in 2002.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

UN Committee Against Torture criticises Vatican handling of sex abuse

Experts reject argument that Vatican only exercises control over city state and is not accountable for priests’ actions worldwide

Lizzy Davies in Rome

Friday 23 May 2014 15.43 BST

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) has criticised the Vatican‘s handling of the clerical sex abuse scandal, urging the Catholic church to do more to punish perpetrators, help victims and place “meaningful sanctions” on clerics who fail to deal properly with credible allegations.

In observations published on Friday following a two-day hearing this month, the panel’s 10 experts rejected the Holy See’s argument that it only exercises control over the tiny Vatican City State and cannot be held accountable for the actions of Catholic priests and bishops throughout the world.

They called on the Holy See to “take effective measures” to monitor individuals under its “effective control” and to “stop and sanction” conduct that would constitute “credible allegations of violations of the [UN] Convention [against Torture]“.

Before the report had even been released, the Vatican issued a statement declaring that it had not been found to be “in violation” of the convention.

But advocates of abuse victims rejected this outright, labelling the report “a historic document” that they said recognised clerical sexual abuse as a form of torture and other cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment.

“They’re clearly wrong,” said Pam Spees of the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights, regarding the Vatican’s assertion. “This is an important recognition of the gravity of these offences that have been minimised by the church, places responsibility where it belongs – with the hierarchy in the church, not the victims – and could help open new avenues for redress.”

Felice D Gaer, the CAT’s American vice-chair, told the Guardian: “Legal scholars will tell you that when we write about a concern and make a recommendation we are identifying something that is not in conformity with the requirements of the convention. We don’t use the word ‘violation'; others do. But it’s quite clear it’s not in conformity with the requirements of the convention.”

The report was the first issued by the CAT into the Holy See, and comes after another UN panel – the Committee on the Rights of the Child – issued a scathing rebuke to the Vatican in February, calling it out not only on its handling of child sex abuse cases but also on its stances on abortion and homosexuality.

Those findings prompted an angry response from the Vatican, which accused the panel of ideologically motivated interference in church teachings.

The CAT report, while critical of the church’s sex abuse record, praises it for the steps taken, and, crucially, leaves out any mention of reproductive rights, which some campaigners had urged the panel to consider.

John L Allen, long-term Vatican observer and correspondent for the Boston Globe, said the difference between the two reports indicated the CAT had not wanted its criticisms to be vulnerable to similar attacks.

“It’s pretty clear that, the last time around, the Vatican and its allies used the fact that there was a lot of language in that report that wasn’t about sex abuse – it was about abortion, homosexuality and so on, culture wars – to suggest that it was ideologically driven. They also complained that it had not acknowledged any positive steps the church had taken,” he said.

“They styled the whole thing as a sort of political exercise – you know, axe-grinding and so on. It would seem clear to me that the Committee Against Torture did not want its findings to be dismissed in the same way.”

In its report, the CAT panel noted progress made by the church on the clerical sex abuse scandal, for example welcoming Pope Francis’s establishment of a commission for the protection of minors, and his statement in April that the church needed to be “even stronger” in its tackling of the problem.

The UN experts also welcomed the Vatican’s publication for the first time this month of comprehensive statistics on how many Catholic priests had been disciplined following abuse allegations. But they added that the Holy See had not provided data regarding how many abuse allegations had been reported to the civil law enforcement authorities in the relevant countries.

The CAT said it was “concerned” by reports that some church officials “resist the principle of mandatory reporting of [abuse] allegations to civil authorities”, urging the church to prevent “credibly accused” abusers being simply transferred to other parishes and dioceses “for the purposes of avoiding proper investigation and punishment of their crimes.”

Any church official who failed to handle credible allegations “with due diligence” should be punished, it added.

Citing the case of Polish archbishop Josef Wesolowski, a former papal envoy to the Dominican Republic accused of sex abuse, it said the Holy See should “if warranted … ensure such persons are criminally prosecuted or extradited for prosecution by the civil authorities” of the relevant country.

It also said it was “deeply concerned” by reports of victims being unable to obtain adequate redress or compensation for their suffering and asked the Vatican to set up an independent complaints mechanism.

In its statement, the Vatican said: “The Holy See condemns sex abuse as a serious crime and a grave violation of human dignity.” It noted the criticisms within the report and said it would “give serious consideration” to its recommendations.

UN Committee Addresses Clergy Rape and Sexual Violence as Torture. Despite Objections and Early Pressure from Vatican Officials, Committee Takes on Church Policies and Practices That Enable Widespread Sexual Violence by Clergy: here.

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