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Hong Kong police must end the unlawful use of force against peaceful protesters, Amnesty International said today, as it published details of new video analysis showing numerous instances of excessive use of force by law-enforcement officials on 12 June.

Amnesty experts in policing and digital verification examined footage of 14 incidents filmed during last weeks protest, which saw tens of thousands of people taking part in a largely peaceful demonstration against the Hong Kong governments controversial new extradition bill.

Tear gas, guns firing rubber bullets, pepper spray and batons were used to disperse the demonstration, which is detailed in a new 20-page report How Not To Police A Protest: Unlawful Use of Force by Hong Kong Police.

In each of the 14 instances examined, the footage – drawn from media coverage, as well as footage posted on social media – shows violations of international law and standards on the use of force by law-enforcement officials. The verified footage shows:

– The beating of subdued protesters by police officers;

– The firing of rubber bullets at a protesters head, risking serious injury;

– Multiple rounds of tear gas fired against protesters who were trapped in a confined area with severely limited opportunities for escape;

– Aggressive police tactics against journalists.

Rubber bullets, pepper spray or batons should never be used for dispersal or directed at peaceful demonstrators or bystanders, but only used against persons engaged in violence. Though such less lethal weapons are usually classified as crowd-control devices, their use can result in serious injury and even death.

Meanwhile, the deployment of excessively high numbers of police officers and the deployment of heavy anti-riot equipment at the protests was clearly intended to intimidate protesters and was likely to have increased tensions leading to violence. Law-enforcement officials should always attempt non-violent means first in the policing of assemblies, including dialogue, de-escalation and negotiation, before resorting to any use of force.

Hong Kong police unmistakably used the violent acts of a small minority on 12 June as a pretext to use unnecessary and excessive force against the vast majority of peaceful protesters.

Man-kei Tam, Amnesty International Hong Kongs Director, said:

“The evidence of the unlawful use of force by police against peaceful protesters on 12 June is irrefutable.

“In the footage Amnesty has verified, police officers appear out of control, placing peaceful protesters who posed no threat in danger of serious injury.

“The Hong Kong authorities should send a clear message that these failures in policing will not be tolerated.

“A thorough, independent and effective investigation needs to take place and any officers found responsible must face justice, at any level of the chain of command.

“While there is no doubt police are under intense pressure during large-scale protests, there can be no excuses for the excessive use of force witnessed last Wednesday.

“There needs to be a sea-change in approach in the policing of assemblies in Hong Kong, away from one using heavy-handed tactics to one of protecting and facilitating peaceful assemblies.”

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Mr Ratcliffes hunger strike in front of the embassy set to enter its eighth day

Those showing solidarity with Richard and his wife will take part in a stone-painting for Nazanin event (12-2pm)

Amnesty International campaigners will be joining Richard Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy in London tomorrow (Saturday 22 June, 12-2pm) to show solidarity with him as his hunger strike over his detained wifes plight enters its eighth day.

Since last Saturday, Mr Ratcliffe has been maintaining a constant presence outside the embassy in protest at the ongoing detention of his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British charity worker who is unfairly jailed in Iran and is herself on hunger strike.

Ratcliffes high-profile protest has already gained widespread support, including from numerous Westminster politicians, while Iranian officials at the embassy have criticised the demonstration and attempted to interfere with it – including by erecting a large steel barrier in front of the embassy.

From noon tomorrow, Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen and other Amnesty activists will take part in a “stone-painting for Nazanin” exercise. Richard Ratcliffe has invited attendees to paint a stone for his wife, with the stones to be placed on the steps of the embassy. These will also contribute to a collection of painted stones held by Mr Ratcliffe that he intends to share with his wife after her release and return home.

The event comes just days after the fifth birthday of the couples daughter Gabriella, who has not been able to return to the UK since her mothers arrest in April 2016. Earlier this year, the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the UK Government had invoked “diplomatic protection” status for Zaghari-Ratcliffe, meaning her ongoing detention had become the basis of a formal dispute between the two countries.

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UKs Director, said:

“Im returning to the Iranian Embassy to show solidarity with Richard in this heart-breaking situation.

“Richards protest has been conducted with great dignity in very challenging circumstances – and its now time for the Iranian authorities to resolve this case once and for all.

“As weve said over and over, Nazanin is the victim of a terrible miscarriage of justice and the Iranian authorities should release her immediately and unconditionally.”

Grossly unfair trial and ongoing health concerns

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, a British-Iranian dual-national charity worker, was arrested at Tehrans Imam Khomeini Airport on 3 April 2016 prior to boarding a plane back to the UK after a regular family visit to the country with her infant daughter Gabriella. After being detained in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2016 after being convicted of “membership of an illegal group” in a grossly unfair trial by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is presently serving a five-year jail sentence in Tehrans notorious Evin Prison. Since being jailed, she has suffered a serious decline in her physical and mental health, something her husband has repeatedly drawn attention to during a high-profile campaign on his wifes behalf. Her requests for periods of temporary release – for which she is eligible – have been met on only one occasion (last August), followed three days later by a return to jail. Amnesty described her return to jail on 26 August as a “crushing disappointment”. She is suffering from numerous health problems – including severe arm, neck and back pain – and there have been serious concerns over her mental health.

Amnesty has designated Zaghari-Ratcliffe a prisoner of conscience targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association. Amnesty has repeatedly called on the Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally.

In December, Zaghari-Ratcliffe completed her 1,000th day in detention, and three days prior to that she turned 40 in jail.

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The ongoing instability in Libya and the complicated political situation since 2011 continue to produce security and economic repercussions across the Mediterranean particularly to Southern European countries. The complexity of the situation makeσ it almost impossible to soundly diagnose and understand the “politics of division” dominatιng the east and western regions of Libya. The recent offensive of General Khalifa Haftar demonstrates that the Libyan Crisis is deepening and far from over.

To fully understand the situation in Libya, International Centre for Relations & Diplomacy (ICRD), and (IPSE) and the newspaper European Interest organised an International Fact finding mission in Tripoli, Libya ( June 7-11), with the participation of area studies experts, politicians, journalists and diplomats from fourteen countries across Europe.

The mission went to the countrys capital, the seat of Libyas Internationally recognised government, and a city under siege. The mission was organised over the course of two months, putting together a team of 30-high calibre participants, whilst taking measures to ensure security and planning meetings with a broad spectrum of government and civic stakeholders on the ground.

Bearing in mind that Tripoli is currently under attack and many governments regard it as a no-go zone, ICRD also faced a number of bureaucratic obstacles, from issuing visas for delegates to ensuring the security of all participants.With the help of the Libyan government, national and international NGOs present on the ground, ICRD was able to secure safe access to a wide array of stakeholders, including civil society, political parties, local councils and local governments, and top government officials.

June 9

After a long journey on the evening of the 8th of June 2019, via Tunis, the mission started its first round of consultations with Libyan local government representatives from across the country, particularly conflict-afflicted regions. The Libyan delegates spoke on length about the challenges they face due to lack of funding and resources from the central government. They also voiced their concerns on security challenges. Interestingly, they also added that in many locations they cant fully operate due to different loyalties of tribes, armed groups to different sides in the east and west of Libya.

Later in the day, the mission met with the political leadership of various political parties. There was a consensus over the condemnation of violence as the means to manage existing power cleavages, while a number of informants spoke at length about the international dimension of the conflict, through local proxies and arms sales, by powers that are seeking part of the oil and gas wealth of Libya. There was also condemnation of the UN position that seeks to retain a balance between the international recognised government and the forces of General Haftar. The term “incompetence” was used on more than one occasion.

A third round of consultations was with civic society organisations, where there was expressed disapproval for foreign involvement that fuels the conflict, especially as regards to encouraging the siege of Tripoli. The condemnation of specific EU member states and Arab Gulf countries was especially vehement. A number of Libyan delegates talked about the need for a Libyan war tribunal, especially in reference to General Haftar.

The mission took note of all speakers, committed only to the principle that conflict resolution must adhere to democratic principles, respect the need to protect civilians, and avoid the use of violence that can irreparably damage the social fabric in Libya. The mission also conveyed a rise in concern over the spillover of national security threats to Europe, particularly via radicalisation and human trafficking from Africa.

Meeting with UN Special Envoy, Ghasan Salame

The delegation held an eye-opening meeting with UN Special Envoy Ghassan Salame to discuss the situation in Libya and the role of the UN. The delegation was briefed about the role of the UN and statistical picture of the ongoing conflict, particularly as regards to internally displaced and casualties. Special Envoy Salame reiterated the UN position of neutrality and invited all parties to find a non violent solution for the current crisis. The ensuing conversation took place off the record.

Field Visit

By the end of the day, our delegation carried out a field visit to a number of sites on the outskirts of Tripoli, including bombarded locations such as the Parliament and residential houses. The field also included a visit to a school that is now converted into a shelter for Internally displaced persons. Our delegation had the chance to speak to the IDPs and listen to their plight such as lack of support, displacement, failure to attend schools and war Trauma.

June 10

Meeting with Al Meshri

The second day of our visit commenced with a briefing and consultation with the President of the High Council of Libya, Khaled Al Meshri, essentially the speaker of parliament.

Al Mashri briefed the delegation about the current situation in Tripoli following the Haftar Offensive. He ruled out talks with General Haftar due to lack of trust, describing the leader of the forces besieging Tripoli as “untrustworthy” that failed to abide by previous agreements made during 6 rounds of negotiations. His view reflects a hardened position, suggesting a point of no return in the conflict. Al Meshri focused on the anger in Tripoli and other cities where people cant get along with their lives due to ongoing fighting and constant attacks on civilian areas on the outskirts of the capital. He also blamed some European and Arab countries who support Haftar in the ongoing offensive.

In response to a question from the delegation about the support the Tripoli government receives from some countries, including weapons or financial support, he clarified that the Government has only imported weapons that are not banned under the UN arms embargo on Libya.

Meeting with Fayez al-Sarraj

The last meeting for our mission was an open discussion with the Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya and prime minister of the Government of National Accord Fayez Al Sarraj, who condemned the offensive of Haftar against Tripoli and called for an immediate end to all types of hostilities. Sarraj proclaimed the attack illegal and called on international community to step up its efforts to contain the Tripoli offensive. He also asserted that Haftar failed to commit to agreements made during a number of successive rounds of negotiations continuing with an offensive despite his agreement to a ceasefire during negotiations in Abu Dhabi. Al Sarraj also commented on the economic situation and that need for stability thus the Libyans could continue building their country.

Meetings In Tunis

Tunis is the closet neighbour to Libya and experiences the first impact from the ongoing conflict. Since 2011, the country has experience an influx of Libyan refugees and the flow continues, almost uninterrupted, with the flow surging during the peak of the conflict. The small North African country has taken millions of refugees both Libyans; and illegal African refugees, who use the country as Transit point in their journey to Europe.

Our delegation concluded its consultations with meetings at the Tunisian parliament, meeting both MPs and the national security advisor for Tunisias President. These consultations took place in confidence at the Tunisian Parliament, hosted by Ms. latifa Hbashi, chair of Committee For Freedoms and International Relations. The discussion gravitated towards the Libyan Crisis and the impact on Tunis. The meeting concluded that Tunis has not received enough support from European Union in dealing with the Libyan refugees nor illegal immigrants. Tunsian MPs added that the country is increasingly vulnerable to terrorism due to crisis in Libya and needs additional support from the International community.

Finally, the delegation then met with the National Security Advisor of the President, Kamel Akrout, to discuss the implications of Libyan conflict on Tunisia. The consultation broadly resulted in the conclusion that a resolution of the conflict in Libya can only be achieved through diplomatic means. He also added that Libyan Government in Tripoli must take the initiative in improving the domestic situation, pointing to a number of lost opportunities since 2016.

By Sameh Habeeb

Sameh Habeeb is a British Journalist and Middle East Expert. He is the founder and director of think tank organisation “International Centre For Relations & Diplomacy. Habeeb is also a co-founder of various media projects and has long history of working with Governments, Politicians and Parliamentarians across Europe and other parts of the world.

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A group of cross-party MPs – including Diane Abbot, Jess Phillips, Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry, Caroline Lucas, Dawn Butler and Harriet Harman – have written a letter to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid raising concerns that the current draft of the Domestic Abuse Bill “will fail to protect migrant women”.

In the letter, the MPs say that migrant women “find it virtually impossible to access protection from the police or doctors for fear they will be reported to the Home Office and detained or even deported” and “are falling through the gaps and further harmed by our current system that treats them as suspects rather than victims”. They urge the Home Secretary and the Government to “address the specific needs of migrant women” in the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill.

The letter comes alongside the publication of the Joint Parliamentary Committees report on the draft Bill today (14 June), which recommends the Government takes steps to ensure all survivors are protected without discrimination, including access to refuge and welfare and the creation of a firewall between support services and immigration control.

Amnesty International UK – which is campaigning alongside the Step Up Migrant Women coalition for better protections for migrant and BME women victims and survivors of domestic abuse – has welcomed the “timely” intervention.

Karla McLaren, Amnesty Internationals Government and Political Relations Manager, said:

“This is a timely and much needed intervention from a diverse and cross-party group of MPs, many of whom will have supported migrant women in their constituencies who are unable to access protection from abuse because of a system which discriminates against them.

“That system must change, and the government now has an opportunity to act. They must listen to migrant women themselves, to the MPs who signed this letter, and to the Domestic Abuse Bill Committee, who have also been clear.

“The Bill must provide equal protection for all survivors, no matter who they are or where they are from.”

Full letter

Dear Home Secretary,

Domestic abuse affects 2 million people – mostly women – every year. As MPs, weve all met constituents whove experienced this violence. Weve heard their devastating stories, weve listened to their needs, and weve vowed to ensure their voices are heard in parliament.

Thats why were compelled to raise our concerns about the draft Domestic Abuse Bill, which, as it currently stands, will fail to protect migrant women from this terrible violence.

We know from meeting people in our surgeries that some of the most vulnerable women experiencing or trying to escape domestic abuse are migrant women.

These women find it virtually impossible to access protection from the police or doctors for fear they will be reported to the Home Office and detained or even deported. These women are unable to find safety in a refuge bed because they have no recourse to public funds. These women are often blocked from securing their immigration status because of a dependence on their abusive partner.

These are the women who are falling through the gaps and further harmed by our current system that treats them as suspects rather than victims. They face a hopeless choice: homelessness, destitution, detention or deportation on the one hand, or returning home to a violent or abusive partner on the other.

The Domestic Abuse Bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our government to ensure all women are offered proper protection, and its the vehicle through which the Government hopes to ratify the Istanbul Convention on preventing violence against women.

But it will fail in these goals if neglects to address the specific needs of migrant women.

We support calls from across the BME, womens and human rights sectors for the Bill to guarantee adequate and equal protection for all survivors of domestic abuse. The Government must take this opportunity to listen to migrant women survivors and ensure the Bill leaves no woman behind.

Signed

Diane Abbott MP, Shadow Home Secretary, Labour Party

Jess Phillips MP, Chair of All Party Group on Domestic Abuse, Labour Party

Nicky Morgan MP, Chair of the Treasury Committee, Conservative Party

Anna Soubry MP, Leader, ChangeUK

Carolyn Harris MP, Shadow Home Office Minister, Labour Party

Heidi Allen MP, Independent

Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, Labour Party

Harriet Harman MP, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Labour Party

Baroness Burt, Member of the Joint Committee on Draft Domestic Abuse Bill, Liberal Democrat Party

Liz Saville-Roberts MP, Member of the Joint Committee on Draft Domestic Abuse Bill, Plaid Cymru

Diana Johnson MP, Member of the Joint Committee on Draft Domestic Abuse Bill, Labour Party

Alex Norris MP, Member of the Joint Committee on Draft Domestic Abuse Bill, Labour Party

Tom Brake MP, Brexit and International Trade Spokesperson, Liberal Democrat Party

Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat Party

Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party

Stella Creasy MP, Labour Party

Sarah Champion MP, Labour Party

Christine Jardine MP, Work and Pensions Spokesperson, Liberal Democrat Party

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Labour Party

Catherine West MP, Labour Party

Virendra Sharma MP, Labour Party

Kate Green MP, Labour Party

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Amnesty supporters to visit Richard Ratcliffe at his parallel hunger strike protest outside Iranian Embassy in London

Its shocking that its come to this – Kate Allen

Responding to news that the jailed UK charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has started a hunger strike in protest at her continued imprisonment in Iran – while her husband Richard Ratcliffe has also gone on hunger strike outside the Iranian Embassy in London – Kate Allen, Amnesty International UKs Director, said:

“This is a truly heartbreaking situation.

“Nazanin has already been through so much, while her tireless husband Richard has strained every sinew to get Nazanin out of jail and back to the UK where she belongs.

“Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience, unfairly jailed after a sham trial and subjected to all manner of torments – including months in solitary conferment and endless game-playing over whether she would receive vital medical care.

“Its shocking that its come to this, and we and countless people across the county fervently hope the Iranian authorities will now finally do the right thing and release Nazanin.

“Ill be visiting Richard outside the Iranian Embassy to offer my support, and I know some of his many supporters will be doing the same.”

Richard Ratcliffe to camp outside Iranian Embassy

Amnestys campaign for Zaghari-Ratcliffes release has been supported by almost 200,000 people, and a number of Amnesty supporters are expected to visit Richard Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy in central London in the coming days to offer their moral support as he embarks on a solidarity protest on behalf of his wife.

Mr Ratcliffe has announced that he will maintain a 24-hour vigil outside the embassy in Knightsbridge, camping out overnight.

Earlier this week (11 June), the couples daughter Gabriella had her fifth birthday and Richard Ratcliffe will hold a candle-lit event (at approximately 8.30pm) marking this milestone outside the embassy on Sunday.

Grossly unfair trial and ongoing health concerns

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, a British-Iranian dual-national charity worker, was arrested at Tehrans Imam Khomeini Airport on 3 April 2016 prior to boarding a plane back to the UK after a regular family visit to the country with her infant daughter Gabriella. After being detained in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2016 after being convicted of “membership of an illegal group” in a grossly unfair trial by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is presently serving a five-year jail sentence in Tehrans notorious Evin Prison. Since being jailed, she has suffered a serious decline in her physical and mental health, something her husband has repeatedly drawn attention to during a high-profile campaign on his wifes behalf. Her requests for periods of temporary release – for which she is eligible – have been met on only one occasion (last August), followed three days later by a return to jail. Amnesty described her return to jail on 26 August as a “crushing disappointment”. She is suffering from numerous health problems – including severe arm, neck and back pain – and there have been serious concerns over her mental health.

Amnesty has designated Zaghari-Ratcliffe a prisoner of conscience targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association. Amnesty has repeatedly called on the Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally.

In December, Zaghari-Ratcliffe completed her 1,000th day in detention, and three days prior to that she turned 40 in jail.

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Berlin – A new briefing from IOMs Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) shows that thousands of people lost in the Central Mediterranean crossing have not been identified.

IOMs Missing Migrants Project database has recorded over 15,000 fatalities in the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy since 2014. Yet remains of fewer than 5,000 of those who lost in the dangerous sea crossing – fewer than 1 in 3 – have been recorded as recovered.

Moreover, even among those bodies that have been found, net identification rates in Italy and Malta range around 22 per cent between 1990 and 2013.

By comparison, the Pima County (Arizona) Office of the Medical Examiner – one of the best practices identified in the report – identified 62 per cent of all migrant bodies found between the years 1981 and 2018 in the desert north of Mexico.

This new IOM report points to both the lack of outreach by the Italian authorities and to the absence of a visible and centralized entity to provide support, feedback and transparency for families reporting missing persons as two reasons behind the poor identification rates.

Among the few successful identifications of migrant bodies, well over half of those rendered in Italy are not done forensically. Rather, authorities rely on “visual” identification, usually by families viewing a corpse or examining photographs of the remains. This technique is prone to producing false identifications, while limiting identification to cases in which family members are available to be near sites of shipwrecks in Italy.

For three high-profile shipwrecks, the Italian Special Commissioner for Missing Persons has mobilized a high-quality forensic operation. Even in these limited cases, where comprehensive forensic data have been collected from migrant bodies, few identifications have been made.

Despite a dedicated state-of-the-art forensic operation for the 3 October 2013 shipwreck, in which at least 366 people lost their lives, net scientific identification rates remain at only 8.5 per cent. When surviving family members provided ante-mortem data samples, identification was far more successful: 58.5 per cent of these cases were identified.

The crisis of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean has prompted media attention on the shocking reality of shipwrecks and the bodies they produce, but relatively little focus on the impacts on the families of the dead who are awaiting news of their loved ones. These families are also the victims of the humanitarian disaster ongoing in the Central Mediterranean.

“Thousands of families of missing migrants remain in limbo,” said Frank Laczko, Director of IOMs Global Migration Data Analysis Centre. “They face the disappearance of a loved one that may never be acknowledged or confirmed.”

For more information, please contact Julia Black at IOMs Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email: [email protected]

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Bogotá – #TuVidaCambia (Your Life Changes) awareness raising campaign has been launched in Colombia to protect Venezuelan migrants and refugees from falling prey to trafficking and smuggling networks. This is a common danger Venezuelans face as they migrate through Colombia, as they seek places to settle, or while in transit to other South American destinations, including like Chile, Ecuador and Perú.

Implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with financial support from the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), this new campaign is based on a song–#TuVidaCambia—which is, itself, an adaptation of a Venezuelan folk song, Sentir Zuliano*.

The song easily transmits prevention messages during the long and exhausting journeys of refugees and migrants crossing the country who are at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking given their significant levels of vulnerability.

Ana Eugenia Durán Salvatierra, IOM Chief of Mission in Colombia explained: “The new version of the song is performed by the band Vos y yo, formed by Venezuelan migrants residing in Colombia.”

She added: “The adapted lyric and other components of the campaign, including live presentations and printed and digital materials with prevention messages, support our goal to provide relevant information to raise awareness among refugees and migrants on the dangers of being deceived and compelled to work under forced labour conditions, becoming victims of sexual exploitation or mendicity, among other forms of trafficking in persons crimes.”

Vos y yo, the band that recorded the track, also travelled between Cúcuta, Colombia, the city on the border with Venezuela, and Bogotá, performing before over 1,000 people in some 20 live shows last week.

Venezuelan refugees and migrants received additional messages to prevent them from falling into human trafficking networks. This crime violates human rights and pursues economic or other benefits by exploiting people, both in and outside Colombia.

As of June 2019, over four million Venezuelans have left their country, with neighboring Colombia thus far their main destination, according to the Coordination Platform for Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants (R4V). As reported by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by 30th April 2019 nearly 1.3 million Venezuelans remain in Colombia.

Ministry of Interior data reveal that between 2013 and 2018, there were 422 cases registered as victims of trafficking in persons in Colombia. Women accounted for 84 per cent of victims and sexual exploitation was the most frequent modality (60%), followed by forced labour (25%). Out of such cases, 58 per cent of the victims were 18 to 30 years of age.

Since the mid 1990s, IOM together with its global partners has provided protection and assistance to nearly 100,000 men, women and children victims of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual and labour exploitation, slavery and other similar practices, such as domestic servitude or organ removal.

Campaign messages may be disseminated and replicated among refugee and migrant communities, with the hashtag #TuVidaCambia.

  • Norberto Pirela and Joseito Rodríguez composed the original song Sentir Zuliano.

For further information please contact IOM Colombia: Andrea López Pinilla, Email: [email protected], or Karen Mora, Tel: 57)1 639 7777, Email: [email protected]

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(Lilongwe, 12 June 2019): At the end of a week-long mission to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi to see first-hand the humanitarian response to Tropical Cyclone Idai, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ursula Mueller called on the world to support the three countries to address the challenges, risks and impacts of extreme weather events and climate change on the most vulnerable. The Cyclone Idai weather system hit the region three months ago, leaving a path of destruction and more than three million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

“While the impact of Cyclone Idai was different in the three countries, this disaster gives us a clear picture of how the effects of climate change are increasing the humanitarian needs of people who are already extremely vulnerable,” said Ms Mueller. “The climate crisis is hurting most those who have done the least to create it.”

In Mozambique, which was affected by two consecutive cyclones, Idai and Kenneth, the deputy humanitarian chief visited Beira, the port city which took the brunt of Idai, and travelled to Dondo, where she met with people who have been resettled after they lost everything. “I am inspired by the incredible resilience of the Mozambican people, who are already rebuilding their lives,” she said. “However, I am deeply concerned for the months ahead, as food insecurity is expected to rise due to the extensive damage to crops and livelihoods. We must ensure that no one is left behind, and that displaced people are resettled in a way that is safe, dignified, voluntary, informed and durable.”

Ms Mueller welcomed the initial outpouring of support and solidarity with Mozambique, but urged the international community to do more. The Humanitarian Response Plan for Mozambique, that calls for US$440 million including the response to Cyclone Idai and Kenneth and the drought in the south, is only 34 per cent funded.

In Zimbabwe, the deputy humanitarian chief visited Chimanimani, one of the locations hardest-hit by Idai, which was already facing a food insecurity crisis before the weather system arrived. “I talked to people who were displaced, most of them women. They told me of how they were already struggling before the storm and, while they are striving to recover, they need support to be more resilient and to improve their lives”, she said.

Ms Mueller stressed during her meetings with the government, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa and various ministers, the critical importance of preventing a further deterioration in the situation, as the humanitarian needs across Zimbabwe escalate as a consequence of the pre-existing drought and economic situation. The Zimbabwe Flash Appeal—which covers the drought, economic crisis and Cyclone Idai— is just over 26 per cent funded, with $75 million received out of $294 million required.

In Malawi, the last country visited during the mission, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator visited Chikwawa District, which was impacted by the massive floods caused by the Cyclone Idai weather system in early March. “With the response transitioning from relief to recovery, and a good harvest expected, it is critical that the Government and development partners take this opportunity to tackle the longer-term challenges which cause recurrent humanitarian crises in Malawi. It is also critical to invest in resilience, both of the communities and the national systems,” she said.

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GENEVA (12 June 2019) – UN experts said today they were seriously concerned that Sudan was sliding into a “human rights abyss”, urging the Human Rights Council to establish an independent investigation into violations against peaceful protesters since the start of the year.

“Given the scale and seriousness of the reported human rights violations and the need to act quickly to prevent further escalation, we call on the Human Rights Council to establish an independent investigation into the human rights violations in Sudan and to actively monitor developments on the ground,” said the experts appointed by the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The UN experts expressed alarm at reports of numerous deaths and injuries since 3 June 2019 as a result of the use of excessive force and violence by State Security Forces, and in particular the Rapid Support Forces, against peaceful demonstrators.

“One of a States most fundamental duties is to protect life,” they said. “In pursuing ordinary law enforcement operations, using force that may cost the life of a person cannot be justified. International law only allows Security officers to use lethal force as a last resort in order to protect themselves or others from death or serious injury.

“We urge the authorities to ensure that security forces handle protests in line with the countrys international human rights obligations and to carry out independent and thorough investigations.”

Women have been at the forefront of the peaceful protests in the country in recent weeks and months and have been among the first victims of the violence, including sexual violence, the experts said, adding that dozens of women human rights defenders had been arbitrarily held in an attempt to intimidate them. While some have been released, information received suggests several remain in police custody and are in need of medical attention.

The Sudanese authorities failure to respect and protect their citizens rights to freedom of association and peacefully assembly, to express their opinions and to make peaceful demands on their Government was also a matter of grave concern, the experts said. The experts called on authorities to reconnect the internet network after it was shut down at the start of June 2019.

“Freedom of expression and assembly is essential so that the legitimate concerns of the people can be heard and their needs, including their human rights, addressed,” they said. “The demonstrators have been calling for democratic change, including the hand-over of power to civilians by the Transitional Military Council (TMC).

“We call upon the Transitional Military Council to respect and protect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to address the underlying causes for the demonstrations. As instructed by the African Union, the TMC must promptly hand over power to a civilian authority. This will avoid further precipitating Sudan into a human rights abyss.”

The experts expressed concerns about reports that three opposition leaders from the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM/N Malik Agar faction) were allegedly deported from Sudan at the weekend. The men were arbitrarily arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Services last week.

ENDS

_(*) UN experts: Mr. Aristide Nononsi **from Benin, the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan; **Mr. Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, from Togo, the Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Michel Forst **(France), **Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; **Ms Meskerem Geset Techane, **Chair of the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice._

_The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. _

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Sudan

Reports on Sudan by previous UN Independent Experts.

_For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / [email protected]) _

Follow news related to the UNs independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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