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UN Daily News
Issue DH/6806
Tuesday, 23 December 2014
In the headlines:
• Libya: UN warns of human rights violations as
• Tunisia’s successful presidential elections ‘critical
• UN officials hail entry into force of landmark global
• As war continues, UN agency maps extensive
• Muslim group trapped by Central African Republic
• Haiti: UN and partners welcome consensus on
factional fighting continues
arms trade treaty
violence face dire situation, warns UN
Global efforts needed to stop deadly banana
disease, protect industry – UN agency
step’ in country’s transition – Ban
destruction to Syria’s cultural heritage
appointment of interim Prime Minister
• Laos: UN experts appeal for help to probe twoyear-old disappearance of rights defender
• As winter hits displaced Iraqis, UN appeals for
• UNESCO chief urges investigation into murder of
• Christmas just another day for those fighting Ebola
• Montagnards hiding in Cambodian forests since
boost in humanitarian funding
in West Africa, says UN staffer
television broadcaster in Honduras
October now safe, UN reports
More stories inside
Libya: UN warns of human rights violations as factional fighting
23 December - Libyan civilians have been subject to targeted killings, forced displacement
and acute humanitarian conditions amid an escalation in fighting in the North African
country, a new United Nations human rights report has warned.
A destroyed house in Ahy Badr in the
town of Mizdah in the Nafusa mountains
in Libya after tribal conflict in March
2013. Photo: IRIN/Jorge Vitoria Rubio
According to the report, released today and jointly produced by the UN Human Rights
Office and the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), civilians caught in the fighting
have been subjected to indiscriminate shelling, abduction, torture and execution as well as
deliberate destruction of property as factional violence ripples across the country.
In western Libya, in the area of Warshafana, fighting between rival armed groups has
resulted in the deaths of an estimated 100 people and injured 500 more in a spell of
hostilities that lasted from late August to early October.
At the same time, the report notes, fighting in the neighbouring Nafusa mountains left 170 people dead. In addition to the
casualties, the fighting has also caused a humanitarian crisis with at least 120,000 people forced to flee their homes,
resulting in consequent shortages in both food and medical supplies.
Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Benghazi, an uptick in violence has seen 450 people killed since October as residents
continue to face shortages in medical care. Moreover, upwards of 15,000 families – some 90,000 people – have been
displaced, according to reports received by UNSMIL.
For information media not an official record
UN Daily News
23 December 2014
“Dozens of civilians have been abducted by all sides, solely for their actual or suspected tribal, family or religious
affiliation, often as hostages in order to exchange them for others held by the opposing side,” continues the report.
“UNSMIL has also received allegations of torture and other abuses which are consistent with earlier patterns of ill-treatment
of detainees, but are a cause of even greater concern because of the heightened political tensions and the ongoing active
In a press release accompanying the report’s publication, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al
Hussein, warned all parties involved in the violence that they remained responsible for any human rights violations
committed during the fighting.
“As a commander of an armed group, you are criminally liable under international law if you commit or order the
commission of grave human rights abuses or fail to take reasonable and necessary measures to prevent or punish their
commission,” he explained. “I urge all those in positions of authority to declare publicly that acts amounting to violations
and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law will not be tolerated.”
“All those suffering in this violence deserve to live in safety with their rights fully protected,” the Special Representative of
the Secretary-General for Libya and head of UNSMIL, Bernardino Léon, added in the press release. “I appeal to all Libyan
political and military leaders to engage, as a matter of urgency, in a genuine political dialogue to take Libya out of the
current crisis.”
At the same time, as the situation in the country rapidly deteriorates with the displacement and re-displacement of
populations in the western outskirts of Tripoli, Benghazi and the southern region of Ubari, the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) warned that Libyan civilians are facing a “deepening” humanitarian crisis as well.
Winterization items needed to shelter the displaced from the fast-advancing cold weather are increasingly in demand, the
agency said in a press release, as displaced families continue to live in public facilities such as schools, parks and abandoned
buildings. Nonetheless, despite the fighting, UNHCR is working to provide 2,000 sleeping mats, 1,460 mattresses, 1,590
plastic sheets, 1,485 kitchen sets, 1,620 school bags and 1,810 jerry cans to over 1,000 families in distress.
“Although the security situation in Libya continues to be volatile, UNHCR has managed to resume distribution of core relief
items in the country from our warehouse,” Saado Quol, the agency’s Chief of Mission in Libya announced. “We understand
assistance is also needed in the east and south, where access is severely restricted. We are exploring how additional
humanitarian items can be distributed to the eastern cities.”
Meanwhile, in New York, the Security Council expressed “grave concern about the serious deterioration on the security
situation and the continuing fighting” in Libya, after hearing a briefing from Mr. Léon via videoconference.
Speaking to reporters following the closed-door session, Ambassador Mahamat Zene Cherif of Chad, which holds the
Council’s rotating presidency for December, said the inflow of unregulated weaponry into the country was also of concern
to the 15-member body, as it was “contributing to the crisis despite the arms embargo.”
The Council reiterated its support for Mr. Léon’s mission and called on all Libyan stakeholders “to accept an immediate
ceasefire and engage in the dialogue process.”
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23 December 2014
UN officials hail entry into force of landmark global arms trade
23 December - United Nations officials are welcoming the entry into force of the Arms
Trade Treaty (ATT), hailing it as a new chapter in collective efforts to bring responsibility,
accountability and transparency to the global arms trade.
“From now on, the States Parties to this important treaty will have a legal obligation to
apply the highest common standards to their international transfers of weapons and
ammunition,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement issued today ahead of the
instrument’s entry into force on 24 December.
A UN peacekeeper in the Democratic
The ATT, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013, is the first legallybinding multilateral agreement that prohibits States from exporting conventional weapons
to countries when they know those weapons will be used for genocide, crimes against
humanity or war crimes. As of 23 December, 60 States had ratified the treaty, and 130 had
signed it, indicating that they intended to ratify.
Republic of the Congo (DRC) examines
AK-47 magazines stored in a warehouse
in Beni after they have been collected in
the demobilization process in Matembo,
North Kivu. UN Photo/Martine Perret
Ultimately, the ATT, the UN Chief said, attests to “our collective determination to reduce human suffering by preventing the
transfer or diversion of weapons to areas afflicted by armed conflict and violence and to warlords, human rights abusers,
terrorists and criminal organizations.”
He added that it is critical to continue to promote universal participation in the ATT, by encouraging all States, particularly
major arms exporters and importers, to join the treaty. “With this in mind, I call on those States who have not yet done so, to
accede to it without delay.”
Calling it a breakthrough in curbing human rights violations and reducing human suffering, the High Commissioner for
Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, hailed the treaty for establishing the highest possible common international
standards for regulating the international trade in conventional arms.
“The lax regulations covering the trade in conventional weapons and the consequent widespread availability and misuse of
arms have had a huge human cost. The unregulated arms trade is one of the main drivers of armed conflict and violence,
contributing and facilitating the commission of human rights and humanitarian law violations,” he said in a statement.
“The ATT is a tool for States to prevent the violence and insecurity resulting from the flow of arms, and in so doing to fulfil
their human rights obligations,” he said, calling on all States that have not ratified the ATT to do so and to apply the treaty’s
provisions to the broadest range of conventional arms.
High Commissioner Zeid reiterated that States that are party to the ATT should not authorise any transfer if they have
knowledge that the arms would contribute to genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. If there is an overriding risk
that exported arms could be used to commit or facilitate a serious human rights violation or a serious violation of
international humanitarian law, then such transfers should be stopped.
Meanwhile, a group of independent UN human rights experts said that while the ATT is a very important step to peace and
security, numerous ambiguities remain in the text that could end up supporting the arms industry.
“Terrorist attacks have become more and more atrocious by the kind of weapons they acquire. This needs to end,” the
experts stressed, noting that “nothing in the treaty forbids selling weapons to non-State entities.”
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23 December 2014
Elzbieta Karska, who currently heads the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, said that the treaty is a welcome
avenue to curbing the provision of arms to illicit actors such as mercenaries.
“Ratifying this treaty will assist States in regulating non-State entities such as private military and security companies –
which often carry and use arms in their line of work– and ensuring compliance with international law,” Ms. Karska added.
The Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, said: “More
important than this treaty on regulation of the arms trade are efforts at reduction of weapon stockpiles worldwide and
ongoing disarmament negotiations that must be pursued in good faith, especially in the field of nuclear disarmament.”
“The world needs to stop not only the trade in, but also the profit-driven production of, all arms since once weapons have
been produced, there is a strong incentive to make sure they are put to use somewhere in the world, so as to continue
producing them,” the experts underscored.
The experts, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, work on a voluntary basis and are independent from any
government or organization.
Muslim group trapped by Central African Republic violence face
dire situation, warns UN
23 December - The United Nations refugee agency voiced concern today over the
“deteriorating situation” facing more than 400 members of a Muslim minority group
trapped by the ongoing violence fracturing the Central African Republic (CAR).
A group of internally displaced people at
Yakole in Central African Republic.
Photo: UNHCR/M. Dore
Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told
reporters in Geneva that 474 members of the Peuhl ethnic group had been trapped for
several months in the town of Yaloke, 200 kilometres northwest of the capital city of
Bangui, where they were now facing dire humanitarian conditions.
Adults and children had become severely malnourished and more than 30 per cent were
suffering from malaria, he noted, adding that there were also six known cases of
tuberculosis. In addition, he warned, since their arrival in Yaloke in April, 42 people among the group had died, while others
were becoming weaker by the day.
“Despite the presence of international forces, the group at Yaloke is still subject to recurrent threats, verbal and physical
aggression, and looting by anti-Balaka militias,” said Mr. Edwards. “Urgent humanitarian assistance is needed along with
help in relocating them to safer places, either inside the Central African Republic or to neighbouring countries.”
He added that today, the displaced Peuhl are the only Muslims still in Yaloke, and they are confined to an overcrowded site
for the internally displaced.
“They cannot go beyond a 500 metre perimeter because of the dangers. This means that they cannot seek safety elsewhere
but it also impedes them from securing a livelihood or seeking other help.”
On 18 December, a UNHCR team had visited the Peuhl in an effort to assess the situation and had been confronted with
more than 90 per cent of the group members expressing the desire to seek refuge in neighbouring countries such as
Cameroon and Chad.
“People pleaded for assistance with vehicles and security to help them leave the country. Others wanted to be relocated
away from Yaloke which is no longer considered viable,” said Mr. Edwards.
More than two years of civil war and sectarian violence have displaced thousands of people in the CAR. According to
UNHCR estimates, nearly 440,000 people remain displaced inside the country while some 190,000 have sought asylum
across the borders. At the same time, more than 36,000 people – including the Peuhl – remain trapped in enclaves across the
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UN Daily News
23 December 2014
country, hoping to find asylum in neighbouring states.
Earlier this month, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous warned of a potentially explosive
situation in the CAR amid continuing violent clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka alliance and anti-Balaka militia,
which are mostly Christian.
The UNHCR spokesperson noted that the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA)
was playing “a key role in protecting people and had prevented numerous acts of violence” but, he cautioned, the situation
was now “becoming worse by the day” and “immediate action” was necessary to help transport the Peuhl to safety.
Global efforts needed to stop deadly banana disease, protect
industry – UN agency
23 December - Without global efforts to respond to a fungal disease affecting banana
production, the $36 billion global industry, which provides a source of income or food to
some 400 million people around the world, is under threat, according to the United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
banana plant affected by the deadly
Fusarium wilt disease among a field of
healthy plants in the Philippines. Photo:
FAO/Fazil Dusunceli
The agency and its partners said $47 million is needed to tackle the new and deadly
Tropical Race 4 (TR4) strain of Fusarium wilt disease, part of which would be used to
provide swift on-the-ground assistance to countries facing new outbreaks.
“Fusarium wilt disease has been a major challenge in the history of banana production,”
said FAO’s head of Plant Protection, Clayton Campanhola, at a meeting of experts at FAO
headquarters in Rome last week. “After the devastation TR4 recently caused to bananas in parts of Asia, we have to fear its
spread in Africa and the Middle East and also to Latin America, and consider it as a threat to production globally.”
Fusarium wilt disease, colloquially known as Panama Disease, brought Indonesia's banana exports of more than 100,000
tonnes annually to a grinding halt, causing annual losses of some $134 million in revenue in Sumatra alone. Currently, the
disease is severely affecting more than 6,000 hectares in the Philippines and 40,000 hectares in China, FAO said in a news
release issued today.
Following a case in Mozambique in December, which prompted an emergency intervention from FAO, the agency and a
group of international experts agreed on a framework for a global intervention-and-prevention programme that would work
to prevent outbreaks, manage existing cases and strengthen international collaboration and coordination.
Supporting ongoing research, educating producers and assisting governments in developing country-specific policies and
regulation for prevention of the disease would be key aspects of the programme.
Fast responses are vital because of the speed with which the disease spreads and the damage it can cause. Once
contaminated, an affected field becomes unfit for producing bananas susceptible to the disease for up to three decades.
In the early 1900s, the fungus spread across Latin America, causing over $2 billion in losses and nearly decimating the
global banana export industry.
“Bananas are the world’s most consumed and exported fruit,” said Fazil Dusunceli, a plant disease expert with FAO’s Plant
Protection Division. “With 85 per cent of all bananas being produced for domestic consumption, you can imagine the impact
of this disease on food security and livelihoods in developing countries.”
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23 December 2014
As winter hits displaced Iraqis, UN appeals for boost in
humanitarian funding
23 December - The United Nations today called for a surge in humanitarian funding to help
cover the basic needs of close to one million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq’s
Kurdistan region amid plummeting temperatures and wintry conditions.
In a joint press statement issued today, the UN and the Kurdistan Regional Government
(KRG) appealed for an “urgent” boost of $152.2 million to help provide food and shelter as
well as health assistance to those that have fled the ongoing conflict in the country.
Over the past several months, Iraq has been convulsed by increasing instability amid an
ongoing offensive by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), leading people to seek
shelter in unfinished buildings, informal settlements, or overwhelmed public structures, as
well as in the open air.
For many Iraqis who fled ISIL to the high
altitude region of northern Kurdistan,
with nothing but the clothes on their
backs, sudden changes in temperatures
have left them entirely dependent on
humanitarian agencies. Photo:
OCHA/Iason Athanasiadis
As people continue to flee the violence in the country, an estimated 946,000 Iraqis have sought sanctuary in Kurdistan since
January, increasing the demands on the KRG and the UN’s country presence.
As a result, both have responded with the jointly-supported Immediate Response Plan II (IRP2), covering the period of 15
November 2014 to 31 March 2015 and placing particular focus on shelter, food, water and sanitation, health education and
comprehensive IDP registration, especially as the cold winter months set in.
“The winter months are particularly worrisome,” said Jacqueline Badcock, the Deputy Special Representative of the
Secretary-General for Iraq. “It’s cold and the worse is yet to come. It’s critical we step up our efforts.”
Christmas just another day for those fighting Ebola in West
Africa, says UN staffer
23 December - Christmas will be “like any other working day” for United Nations
humanitarian worker Chris Huddart, who – like thousands across West Africa – is spending
the holiday responding to the Ebola outbreak.
Mr. Huddart, who is from the United Kingdom, works as a programme officer with the
World Food Programme (WFP) in Liberia, one of the countries hardest hit by the outbreak.
“Sadly, any sign of Christmas is lacking this year” in Liberia, he said in an online
interview, noting that the country is fighting Ebola with a crumbling healthcare system, a
lack of doctors and nurses, and a lack of equipment.
United Nations humanitarian worker
Chris Huddart, who is part of the WFP
Ebola response. Photo: WFP/Donaig Le
“Christmas here is usually a real community event but Ebola has affected many people –
not only those that have died or lost family members, but also the medical staff who are working day and night at Ebola
treatment units, and those people who have had their livelihoods ripped from their hands because they can’t work,” he said.
As for himself, Mr. Huddart said: “For me Christmas will be like any other working day.”
“I will wake up early and get ready for work,” he said. “If there is water I’ll take a shower – if not I’ll use the hand sanitizer
under the armpit trick! After checking the news and the latest Ebola infection rates, I’ll go into the office.”
As for his Christmas wish, Mr. Huddart said: “Although I wish it would, I don’t think Ebola will disappear overnight – I
rather suspect that there may always be one or two cases that emerge now and then – but I hope for it to cease being a
humanitarian crisis.”
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23 December 2014
The latest statistics issued today by the World Health Organization (WHO) say that 19,431 people have been affected by
Ebola, with 7,565 deaths.
The UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) today reported that an outbreak of 50 confirmed cases in a
number of villages of Kissidougou prefecture in Guinea prompted the mobilization of additional ambulances as well as
response experts by the Guinean National Ebola Response Cell and WHO to deal with contact tracing, social mobilization
and communication, body disinfection and safe burials.
Also, a Rapid Isolation and Treatment of Ebola team has been flown in to follow up on reports that a 12-year-old girl with
Ebola crossed the border from Guinea into Nimba county, Liberia, according to UNMEER.
UNMEER also reported that Sierra Leone is withdrawing its troops from Somalia after the African Union blocked the West
African country from rotating its soldiers over fears for Ebola. Sierra Leone sent 850 troops to Somalia in 2013 for a 12month deployment.
Also today, a Dutch navy transport vessel is scheduled to arrive in Sierra Leone with cargo made up of logistics assets key
to the implementation of the response, such as trucks, 4x4 vehicles and ambulances, and WFP is stepping up its support to
WHO in that country.
UNMEER noted that in the last 21 days, there have been 1,507 new cases Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone with
1,058 deaths, and the most new cases were in Sierra Leone, where these figures were 1,069 and 667, respectively.
Meanwhile, a peacekeeper from Nigeria who had contracted Ebola and was then evacuated to the Netherlands earlier this
month has now returned to the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to resume his duties following a full recovery.
Tunisia’s successful presidential elections ‘critical step’ in
country’s transition – Ban
23 December - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commended the Tunisian people on
the successful holding of the second round of presidential elections on 21 December and
congratulated the winner, Beji Caid Essebsi.
“This historic event is a critical step in the country’s transition and a clear demonstration of
the people’s desire for accountable and representative government,” said a statement issued
by Mr. Ban’s spokesman.
The Secretary-General “expresses the hope that the Tunisian people and their newly elected
authorities will continue to embrace the spirit of inclusiveness that has guided the transition
up to this moment.”
Voting in Tunisia Constituent Assembly
Elections in October 2011. Photo:
UNDP/Noeman Al-Sayyad (file)
Reiterating the availability of the United Nations to continue supporting the Tunisian authorities as they tackle the
challenges the country is facing and pursue the process of democratic consolidation and economic development, Mr. Ban
also congratulated Tunisian electoral authorities for their continued efforts in finalizing the process.
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23 December 2014
As war continues, UN agency maps extensive destruction to
Syria’s cultural heritage
23 December - The extensive destruction and damage of Syria’s historical and cultural
heritage sites demands increased efforts to protect them from the violence of the country’s
continuing conflict, a new United Nations report based on exclusive satellite imagery has
The report – a comprehensive study compiled by the Operational Satellite Applications
Programme (UNOSAT) of the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) –
reviews 18 different cultural heritage areas. A total of 290 locations in these areas were
found to have been directly affected by the hostilities over that past three years.
Syria: destruction of Aleppo’s historical
monuments. Photo: UNESCO
Out of the 290 locations, the report says, 24 have been destroyed; 104 severely damaged; 85 moderately damaged; and 77
possibly damaged.
“At this point in time we found it important to issue a comprehensive status report to alert decision-makers and the public of
deterioration to many of the rich cultural heritage areas in Syria,” Einar Bjorgo, Manager of UNOSAT, explained in the
press release.
“That widespread destruction and damage we have observed calls for increased protection efforts and support to the ongoing
work of UNESCO [UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization],” he added.
Cultural heritage areas such as Aleppo, where settlements have been in place for over 7,000 years, Damascus, Crac des
Chevaliers, Raqqa and Palmyra have all been exposed “to major damage,” a UNITAR press release noted, adding that
further looting and destruction from aerial bombardments and other explosions “significantly threatens the heritage to future
generations of these historic structures and objects.”
Satellite imagery of the old city of Aleppo alone shows a devastating scene as the Great Umayd Mosque is visibly damaged
and its minaret destroyed. Meanwhile, the location of the famous Carlton Hotel shows a proliferation of craters present.
“UNITAR-UNOSAT’s analysis is an alarming testimony of the ongoing damage that is happening to Syria’s vast cultural
heritage,” the press release continued. “National and international efforts for the protection of these areas need to be scaled
up in order to save as much as possible of this important heritage to human-kind.”
The UN agency has made a special web site available for the public featuring satellite imagery samples and its other
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23 December 2014
Haiti: UN and partners welcome consensus on appointment of
interim Prime Minister
23 December - The United Nations and its international partners today welcomed the
designation of Florence Guillaume as Haiti’s interim Prime Minister.
Mr. Guillaume, who was previously serving as Minister of Public Health and Population,
was appointed by Haiti’s President in accordance with Article 165 of the country’s
Constitution, according to a news release issued by the UN.
Newly-appointed Prime Minister of Haiti,
Florence Guillaume (left) shown with
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when he
visited the country on 15 July 2014.
Photo: UN/MINUSTAH/Logan Abassi
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Haiti and other members of the Core
Group – comprising the Ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, United States, and
the European Union, as well as the Special Representative of the Organization of American
States – commended the President’s efforts to implement the Presidential Advisory
Commission’s recommendation.
It also commended the work undertaken by the President, together with the Presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of
Deputies, the representatives of political parties and other political stakeholders “to forge the necessary consensus” for the
nomination of a Prime Minister and the formation of a consensus government.
The Core Group’s members noted with appreciation the positive response by the nine Electoral Councillors to the
appeasement measures recommended by the Commission as well as the political goodwill and constructive attitude
displayed thus far by various political parties, by responding to the invitation by the President of the country for
The Group encouraged all concerned actors to commit to accepting the measures proposed by the Advisory Commission and
to respect the President’s constitutional legitimacy. Doing so will preserve stability and create “a climate of confidence,
serenity and mutual respect” in efforts to solve the political crisis and allow for the holding of inclusive and fair elections,
the news release added.
Laos: UN experts appeal for help to probe two-year-old
disappearance of rights defender
23 December - International support is now needed to investigate the enforced
disappearance of leading Laotian human rights defender Sombath Somphone, who was last
seen in December 2012, a group of United Nations independent experts urged today.
“It is high time for the authorities of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to voluntarily
request international assistance with the aim of shedding light on Mr. Somphone’s fate and
whereabouts, two years after his disappearance,” the experts said in a news release.
“International law makes clear that the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic
Republic has the duty to carry out an independent, thorough, credible and effective
investigation,” they added.
An ethnic Hmong woman in Ban
Houythao, Laos, where most people
depend on the land for their livelihoods.
Photo: IRIN/Martin Abbiati
Mr. Somphone is a prominent human rights activist working on issues of land confiscation and assisting victims in
denouncing such practices. He was last seen at a police checkpoint with his car parked in the police compound.
“We urge the authorities to release more information about the progress of investigation, especially to his family,” the
experts stressed. “In the absence of any tangible progress, we strongly recommend that an international team of experts work
jointly with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to fulfil its legal obligations.”
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23 December 2014
“We also encourage all States to offer their support to the Government of Lao PDR to ensure that the disappearance of Mr.
Somphone is thoroughly investigated,” the experts added.
The situation of human rights in Laos is due to be assessed next month through the Universal Period Review process, which
involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. Under the auspices of the Human Rights Council,
the process provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve their human rights
The experts said they hope that the authorities will respond favourably to a request for an invitation to visit Laos by the UN
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai.
Along with Mr. Kiai, the experts speaking out on Laos today include the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights
defenders, Michel Forst; and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and the protection of the right to freedom of
expression and opinion, David Kaye.
Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and
report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.
UNESCO chief urges investigation into murder of television
broadcaster in Honduras
23 December - The head of the United Nations agency mandated to defend freedom of
expression and press freedom has denounced the killing of broadcaster Reynaldo Paz
Mayes in the Honduran city of Comayagua last week and called for a thorough
investigation into the case.
Director-General of the UN Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO), Irina Bokova. UN
Photo/Devra Berkowitz
“I condemn the murder of Reynaldo Paz Mayes,” Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said in a news release issued
today in Paris.
“The authorities must investigate this crime, establish its motives, and bring its perpetrators
to justice. This is important for all members of Honduran society who, like people
everywhere, require free, diverse and independent media to make well informed decisions,” she added.
Mr. Paz Meyes – the founder of a small local television channel, RPM TV Canal 28, and the host of a news programme –
was shot dead while exercising in an outdoor sports complex on 15 December. He was reported to have received anonymous
death threats over a long period of time.
Ms. Bokova issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member
States at the Organization’s 1997 General Conference entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.”
These statements are posted on a webpage condemning the killing of journalists.
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23 December 2014
Montagnards hiding in Cambodian forests since October now
safe, UN reports
23 December - After weeks of effort and engagement with authorities, the United Nations
said today that it has helped a group of Vietnamese Montagnards who had been hiding in
the Cambodian forests since October with little protection and subsistence get to safety.
Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva that the group of 13 had tried to seek asylum in
Cambodia after they told local sources that they fled religious persecution in Viet Nam.
However, provincial authorities in Cambodia warned that if they were caught, they would
be deported back to Viet Nam.
Members of the UN Human Rights Office
in Cambodia interview Montagnard
asylum seekers in forest © OHCHR
Last week, the Montagnards had communicated that they were ready to come forward, with
the presence of the UN. Early on Saturday morning, a group of eight Montagnards, including one woman, had presented
themselves to a joint team of UN and local authorities.
Later that day, the UN team of three human rights officers and one driver scoured the jungle to search for the other group of
five who wished to present themselves to the UN. Provincial police later informed the team that the group was being held in
custody. The five were handed over to the joint team that evening.
“When our team found them, the 13 Montagnards were thin, exhausted, dishevelled and complaining of various health
problems after more than seven weeks of sleeping rough on the forest floor with little to eat,” said Ms. Shamdasani.
The asylum claims of the 13 people are now being processed by the Cambodian Government’s Refugee Department.
“We are grateful for the close collaboration with the Ministry of Interior and with our partners at the UN refugee agency
(UNHCR),” Ms. Shamdasani said. “We thank the Ministry of Interior for its cooperation throughout the past two months, in
spite of the difficulties with the provincial authorities.
“We acknowledge with appreciation the cooperation of the provincial law enforcement authorities in the final instance,
when they ultimately allowed the last five to apply for asylum. We will continue to work with the Government to ensure that
any future cases are handled in line with the standards required by international law.”
UN rights experts alarmed at resumption of death penalty by
States for terrorist acts
23 December - As Pakistan lifted a six-year moratorium on use of the death penalty
following the recent terrorist attack in Peshawar, United Nations human rights experts
today warned against rescinding such suspensions and stressed the risks of overusing
capital punishment for terrorist acts.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif cancelled the unofficial ban on executions for nonmilitary personnel ‘in terrorism-related cases’ after an attack last week by the Pakistani
Taliban on a school killed 148 people, almost all children. The country is reportedly
planning to execute around 500 convicts who have exhausted all their appeals.
UN Photo/Martine Perret
The UN Special Rapporteurs on summary execution, torture, and human rights and counter terrorism said in a news release
that they are alarmed about the lifting of the bans on the death penalty as well as adoption of new laws to impose the
UN News Centre • www.un.org/news
UN Daily News
- 12 -
23 December 2014
punishment for acts of terrorism.
They noted a trend where a small number of other countries have decided to resume the death penalty for terrorist acts. This
decision contradicts the global trend on the abolition of the death penalty and international human rights law, they said,
noting the lack of statistical evidence linking reintroduction of the death penalty with reduction of criminality.
“The removal of moratorium on death penalty and the adoption of new anti-terrorist legislation is a step back on the total
abolition of the death penalty in the world,” the experts said.
The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, drew attention to the
possible overuse of anti-terrorist laws by Pakistani authorities, which may apply death sentences for crimes that do not meet
the most serious crimes requirement.
“The definition of acts of terrorism in the Pakistani legislation remains very vague. Hundreds of people charged with such
acts are at risk of being executed,” he warned. “I ask Pakistan to continue the moratorium on actual executions and to put in
place a legal moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to its abolition.”
Mr. Heyns’s call was echoed by Juan E. Méndez, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment, who pointed to the growing international and State-level practice of framing the debate about the
legality of the death penalty within the context of human dignity and the prohibition of torture.
“I call upon Pakistan and all States to reconsider whether the use of the death penalty per se respects the inherent dignity of
the human person, causes severe mental and physical pain or suffering and constitutes a violation of the prohibition of
torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” Mr. Méndez stated.
Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms
while countering terrorism, underlined the need for States to comply with international law relating to imposition of the
death penalty even in the face of terrorist attacks.
“Any trial for terrorism offences which could lead to the imposition of the death penalty, including all stages before the trial
and the consideration of appeals on matter of fact and law after the trial, must rigorously comply with all aspects of a fair
trial,” he said.
The UN Daily News is prepared at UN Headquarters in New York by the News Services Section
of the News and Media Division, Department of Public Information (DPI)