This is the news in brief from the United Nations.
UN expert criticizes States for ‘ganging up’ on Wikileaks’ Assange
After visiting Julian Assange in a London prison, an independent UN human rights expert expressed urgent concern on Friday, for the Wikileaks co-founder’s well-being, accusing “a group of democratic States” of “ganging up” on the prisoner to “isolate, demonize and abuse” him and warned against extraditing the controversial publisher to the United States.
Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, said he was “particularly alarmed” at the recent announcement that the US Department of Justice had lodged 17 new charges against Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act.
“This may well result in a life sentence without parole, or possibly even the death penalty, if further charges were to be added in the future,” he said.
On Thursday, he was deemed too ill to appear via video-link from a British prison in a hearing over an extradition request from the US.
The Rapporteur said in 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution, he had “never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law”.
Asia-Pacific resolutions provide ‘solid foundations’ towards reaching SDGs
Wrapping up a key annual conference representing the more than 4 billion citizens of the Asia-Pacific region, the head of the UN Economic and Social Commission there said that nine agreed resolutions, provided a solid foundation for reaching the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Addressing the closing ceremony, ESCAP Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Alis-jahbana said the decisions were “firmly anchored in the 2030 Agenda and provide solid foundations on which to build upon.”
She said that putting resolutions into practice was “essential to achieving a transformed and resilient society in Asia and the Pacific.”
Seeing action at a sub-regional level was also key: “I hope this will be a first step towards more systematically identifying common priorities”, she said.
More Somali refugees opt to return from war-torn Yemen
More Somali refugees are leaving war-torn Yemen, and choosing to return home, amid rising safety fears.
That’s according to UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, which said on Friday that the latest boat carrying 125 refugees departed the port city of Aden this week, bringing men, women and children back to Somalia – where insecurity is also rife – in time for the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
A total of around 4,300 have returned to the Horn of Africa country, since the rollout of a UNHCR-facilitated Assisted Spontaneous Return programme, in 2017.
Among those fleeing Yemen this week were Somalis born there to refugee parents, and others who had initially seen Yemen as a safer place to live and work, hoping to escape conflict at home.
Matt Wells, UN News.