Mediation for Afghanistan’s violent offenders ‘fails women’
The Afghan tradition of employing mediation rather than criminal prosecution to deal with violent offenders of women “makes it much more likely to recur”, UN rights experts said on Tuesday.
According to a report by UN human rights office OHCHR and the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), victims are often pressured into agreeing to mediation, instead of the alleged perpetrator being brought to trial.
This means that violence against women — including so-called “honour killings” — “too often goes unpunished”, the report’s authors say, noting 280 murders and “honour killings” in 2016 and 2017.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that mediation makes violence “much more likely to recur” and “erodes the confidence of women — and the wider public — in the legal system”.
Mali’s children ‘bear heaviest brunt’ of conflict, says UNICEF
Worsening security in Mali is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.
The country has seen years of instability; in 2012, jihadists took over the country’s north, before being ousted by the French military.
UN peacekeepers are stationed in Mali but it is the Organization’s most dangerous mission amid ongoing attacks by extremists.
The insecurity has left 850,000 youngsters under 5 at risk of acute malnutrition and more than a quarter of a million face an “imminent risk of death” because of severe acute malnutrition, spokesperson Christophe Boulierac told journalists in Geneva:
“Away from the world’s attention and amid increasing violence, more children are going hungry in Mali, missing out on learning, and dying in the first days of life.”
Food shortages are worst in the north, including Timbuktu, where severe acute malnutrition exceeds 15 per cent.
According to UNICEF, more than 2 million children are not getting an education and 750 schools are closed in Mali’s northern and central regions.
Saudi arrests of civil rights defenders ‘perplexing’: UN rights office
The arrest in Saudi Arabia of more than a dozen civil liberties activists has been criticized by the UN human rights office, OHCHR, which on Tuesday urged the country’s authorities to reveal their locations and ensure their right to a fair trial.
Since 15 May, at least 13 activists — mostly women — have been arrested.
Four of the female detainees are reported to have been released since then, according to OHCHR.
Spokesperson Elizabeth Throssell called the development “perplexing”, in light of the “significant loosening” of social restrictions in the Gulf State, linked to reforms undertaken by the heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
These include the end next month of a driving ban for women, plans to open cinemas and other economic and social changes covered by the country’s Vision 2030 initiative.
Speaking in Geneva, Ms. Throssell said that six women and three men remain in custody, including one woman who has allegedly been held “completely incommunicado”.
“We urge the Saudi Arabian authorities to reveal their locations, and ensure their rights to due process guarantees. These include the right to legal representation, the right to know the reason for their arrests, the nature of the charges against them, the right to have access to their families, the right to challenge the legality of their detention before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and, if charged with an offence, the right to be brought to trial within a reasonable period of time.”