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Global News Snippets 2 February

European UN ‘peacekeepers’ accused of shocking sexual abuse of children in CAR

Umar Stambuli – Cii Radio | 21 Rabi ul Akhir 1437/01 February 2016

Their sole mandate was to bring peace in Central African Republic (CAR).But the foreign military forces tasked with this job failed short of protecting the vulnerable.

Instead they used their position to sexually abuse innocent children, who wanted nothing more than their protection.

In yet another shocking report from United Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR), more allegations of children by foreign soldiers have escalated in the country.

In a press statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he was extremely alarmed at continuing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of minors in the Central African Republic (CAR) by members of foreign military forces.The alleged crimes mostly took place in 2014, but only came to light in recent weeks after a joint UN team in the CAR recently interviewed a number of girls who said they had been sexually exploited or abused by foreign soldiers.

“These are extremely serious accusations and it is crucial that these cases are thoroughly and urgently investigated,” Al Hussein said.“I am heartened at the initial responses we have received from the countries concerned, as well as from the European Union, which show they take these terrible allegations very seriously. We will continue to closely follow up on these cases, and any others which emerge as the UN team on the ground continues its investigations. Far too many of these crimes continue to go unpunished, with the perpetrators enjoying full impunity.”

UN says four of the girls interviewed said their abusers were attached to contingents operating as part of the European Union operation (EUFOR / CAR).“Two of the girls interviewed said they were raped by EUFOR soldiers, and the two other girls said they were paid to have sexual relationships with other EUFOR soldiers” reads the statement.“While the nationalities of some of the soldiers remain unclear, three of the girls said they believed their abusers were members of the Georgian EUFOR contingent. The four girls were aged between 14 and 16 at the time of the alleged abuse.”

UN human rights staff also interviewed a girl and a boy who were aged 7 and 9 respectively when they were allegedly abused in 2014 by French Sangaris troops.“The girl said she had performed oral sex on French soldiers in exchange for a bottle of water and a sachet of cookies. Both she and the nine-year-old boy said that other children were abused in a similar fashion in repeated incidents involving several French soldiers,” UN said.

The exploitation of minors by UN troops has increase over the years – with recent published cases being in Haiti and Sudan where the peacekeepers have been accused of sexual abuse of children.In 2015, a UN report interviewed over 200 Haitian women—a third of whom were “minors”—who told they were forced to have sex with UN soldiers in exchange of material aid.

Children as young as 9 at risk of execution in Iran

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Umar Stambuli – Cii Radio | 21 Rabi ul Akhir 1437/01 February 2016

When Saudi Arabia sentenced 47 people including a Shia cleric to death, Iran criticized the Saudi monarchy in strongest terms.The Persian country, which had its sanctions lifted recently, denounced the act of Saudi Arabia calling it barbaric.

The war of words and protests against the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran led to a diplomatic standoff which culminated in Riyadh cutting all diplomatic ties with Tehran.But behind all the noise from Iran and support for fellow Shia preacher, Nimr Al Nimr, the country is guilty as charged when death penalties are concerned.

Actually, statistics from Amnesty International put the country on top stop.

In 2015, from the period between 1 January and 15 July, the Shia majority country executed 694 people.The researchers of this report indicated that Iran was on the brink of surpassing total number of executions recorded in the country in 2014.

“Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

As Tehran was celebrating the lifting of its decades long sanctions, Amnesty International released a report that shows how dozen of youths in Iran are languishing on death row for crimes committed under the age of 18.

In a new report published on Tuesday, the human rights watchdog says it wants to highlight crimes being committed by Iran and attempts by authorities to whitewash their continuing violations of children’s rights.

Amnesty International says the ‘Growing up on death row: The death penalty and juvenile offenders in Iran’ willhighlight Iran as one of the world’s last executioners of juvenile offenders.

“This report sheds light on Iran’s shameful disregard for the rights of children. Iran is one of the few countries that continues to execute juvenile offenders in blatant violation of the absolute legal prohibition on the use of the death penalty against people under the age of 18 years at the time of the crime,” said Said Boumedouha.“Despite some juvenile justice reforms, Iran continues to lag behind the rest of the world, maintaining laws that permit girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15 to be sentenced to death.”

Boumedouha said the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders needs urgent revision.

“The persisting flaws in Iran’s treatment of juvenile offenders highlight the continuing and urgent need for laws that categorically prohibit the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders,” said Boumedouha.“The life or death of a juvenile offender must not be left at the whim of judges. Instead of introducing half-hearted reforms that fall woefully short, Iran’s authorities must accept that what they really need to do is commute the death sentences of all juvenile offenders, and end the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders in Iran once and for all.”

Amnesty International has been able to identify the names and location of 49 juvenile offenders at risk of the death penalty in the report.Many were found to have spent, on average, about seven years on death row. In a few cases documented by Amnesty International, the time that juvenile offenders spent on death row exceeded a decade.According to the UN at least 160 juvenile offenders are currently on death row. The true numbers are likely to be much higher as information about the use of the death penalty in Iran is often shrouded in secrecy.

Uganda joins long list of nations protesting Saudi Arabia’s treatment of foreign domestic workers

Umar Stambuli – Cii News | 17 Rabi ul Akhir 1437/28 January 2016 Rabi-ul-Aakhir

Saudi Arabia’s ill treatment of domestic workers has piqued Uganda.

The East African nation has put a ban on its citizens willing to work in the Gulf state amid accusations of abuse by their employers.

In a press statement issued on Friday, the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Muruli Mukasa said her ministry has been receiving complaints of workers subjected to inhuman treatment by their employers in Saudi Arabia.The ban comes six month after the two countries signed an agreement allowing the export of domestic workers to Saudi Arabia.The agreement was meant to cushion trafficking of persons to the Saudi kingdom, which is prevalent in east Africa.

“The purpose of this letter, therefore, is to inform you that after reviewing all processes and procedures pertaining to recruitment and deployment of housemaids as well as their working conditions, we have come to the conclusion to ban the recruitment and deployment of housemaids to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia forthwith,” said Mukasa in a press statement.

She said the ban which is in line with Parliamentary recommendations will remain in place until the conditions of the workers were improved.

“The ban will remain in force until the conditions are deemed fitting. The ban is also in line with Parliament recommendation on banning recruitment and deployment of housemaids,” read part of the statement.

The full statement

Free at last

According to The Independent newspaper, the ban could have been prompted by messages circulating on social media about Ugandans who allege were being imprisoned in Saudi jail.

The Ugandan government said on Tuesday it has facilitated the release of seven women from a shelter jointly operated by the Saudi Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Social Affairs in Riyadh.

The group is part of 24 Ugandan women who were stranded at the shelter due to failure to pay for their return air tickets home.

The shelter was set up to house migrant workers with pending issues, including those who abscond and run away from their employers, those who are stranded and cannot pay for their tickets home and illegal workers caught in sting operations by authorities in Saudi Arabia.

“We are in daily contact with them and efforts are underway to have the rest of the girls return home in the coming few days and we are working closely with Mr Pious Bigirimana – The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour,” said Dr. Sheikh Rashid Yahya Ssemuddu, the Ugandan ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

“We discovered that many of the young girls were brought to Saudi Arabia on promises that could not be met by those who recruited them. Others were young and travelled on falsified documents. On reaching Saudi Arabia, they couldn’t take on the work load and therefore refused to work. Most of the cases involved human trafficking,” said Ambassador Ssemuddu.

Inhumane treatment of maids

Uganda follows Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Philippines who also banned migrants from traveling to Saudi Arabia until they could be assured the workers were given basic labour rights.

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been slammed by human rights groups for its inhumane treatment of domestic workers.

A number of cases in the past few years have made international headlines.

In October last year, India lodged a formal complaint to Riyadh against after an Indian maid was chopped off her right hand was chopped off by her employer when she tried to escape the daily harassment, torture and abysmal work condition, the media reported.

A video of Kenyan women begging for help on social media sparked an online campaign and the intervention of the government in Nairobi.

The group of Kenyan domestic workers said they have faced abuse – including physical assaults and rape – at the hands of their employers in Saudi Arabia.

In 2010, a Sri Lankan domestic worker said her Saudi employer had hammered nails into her body as punishment.

The same year an Indonesian maid said her Saudi employer cut and burned her face with scissors and a hot iron, leaving her with horrific injuries.

In 2014, online photos of a Filipina domestic worker’s horrendous injuries from boiling water her employer’s mother allegedly threw on her went viral.

 

 

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