This is the news in brief from the United Nations.
People’s rights under fire, UN chief tells the Human Rights Council
People’s rights are under fire “in many parts of the globe”, the UN chief told the Human Rights Council on Monday, but he said that thanks to the progress made by powerful social justice movements, he was hopeful for the future.
António Guterres was addressing the Geneva-based forum on the opening day of its 40th session, and underlined the Council’s key role as the “epicentre” for dialogue and cooperation on all human rights issues: be they civil, political, economic, social or cultural.
“One billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty in just a generation. More than two billion people have gained access to improved sanitation. And more than 2.5 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water resources. The mortality rate for children under five has declined by almost 60 percent. It is in this overall context of progress and concern that I want to focus on a few human rights challenges as I scan the global horizon.”
The UN chief insisted that ongoing gender inequality remains a major modern-day challenge: “Untold women and girls still face insecurity, violence and other violations of their rights every day,” he added, while glass ceilings “abound”.
Around 6,000 more mostly women and children flee last ISIL terrorist stronghold in Syria
Around 6,000 more mainly women and children have arrived in an overcrowded camp for the internally-displaced in north-eastern Syria, having fled the town of Baghouz, where the ISIL or Da’esh terrorist group is making its final stand against coalition forces.
UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, told reporters at UN Headquarters on Monday that new arrivals at the Al Hol camp over the weekend, meant that nearly 40,000 had arrived there since December.
“Conditions at the camp are extremely challenging, particularly in the reception areas, which are currently hosting thousands of people, but with insufficient water and sanitation hygiene facilities. This is increasing the risk of a disease outbreak. To help decongestion in these areas, extensions to the camp are already underway, with services and assistance provided to people in these areas.”
Mr. Dujarric said the UN was also “gravely concerned” by further reports of civilian casualties due to hostilities and unexploded ordinances in Idleb and Hama governorates in Syria’s northwest.
UN experts ‘deplore’ executions of nine in Egypt who ‘confessed under torture’
A group of UN human rights experts on Monday deplored the execution of nine men in Egypt last week, who were convicted on the basis of evidence allegedly obtained through torture.
“These convictions appear to be in direct disregard of both Egyptian and international law and procedure” said the nine experts in a joint statement, expressing their dismay at authorities’ continuing disregard of the legal process.
The men were executed even though an appeal and petition to halt the death sentences, was before Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, said the experts.
They pointed out that “capital punishment may only be carried out after a legal process that gives all possible safeguards” following a final high court judgement.
In January last year, the experts called on Egypt to halt all pending executions following repeated allegations of unfair trials.
Since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in July 2013, Egyptian courts have upheld 1,451 death sentences, out of a total 2,443 referrals by lower courts.
Matt Wells, UN News.