UN’s Guterres condemns ongoing airstrikes on Syria’s hospitals, medical workers
Reports that airstrikes have hit several health facilities in north-west Syria have been strongly condemned by the UN Secretary-General.
In a statement, António Guterres said that one of the damaged facilities included a large hospital in Maarat al Numan whose coordinates had been shared with belligerents, through the UN’s de-confliction mechanism.
The development follows an escalation of violence since April in Idlib, the last opposition-held enclave in the country.
Some three million people live there, many of them displaced by clashes between Government and opposition fighters.
Highlighting the impact on non-combatants, Mr. Guterres insisted that civilians and public buildings must be protected, in line with a 2018 de-escalation agreement overseen by guarantors Russia and Turkey.
The UN Secretary-General also insisted that those responsible for carrying out serious violations of international humanitarian law should be held accountable.
UN human rights office alarm over death sentences for 30 men in Houthi-held Sana’a
The UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Friday that it is deeply alarmed at death penalty sentences handed down to 30 men in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, noting credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment.
In an appeal to the de facto Houthi authorities in Sana’a to dismiss the likely politically motivated charges, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said that most of the men were academics, students and politicians affiliated with an opposition movement.
Ms. Shamdasani, who noted the UN’s longstanding objection to the death penalty, also explained that the men had been detained and reportedly prosecuted without respect for due process.
“The arrests also took place without warrants, for the most part, and they were held without being brought to a court, for several months or up to a year in many cases. They were arrested at various points 2016, charged in 2017 and since then there have been several hearings. I understand, there may have been up to 39 hearings, but at no point were they given a proper chance to present a defence.”
Sana’a, in the west of the Arabian peninsula State, has been under the control of the Houthis since late 2014, after they drove out forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
From March 2015 until end of June 2019, OHCHR has documented 7,659 civilians killed and 12,305 injured in the ongoing conflict, it said on Friday.
Since fighting escalated more than four years ago, conflict between the belligerents has created a humanitarian disaster for the people of Yemen, in large part owing to blockades on imports of food, fuel and medicines through key Red Sea ports, such as Hudaydah.
In June, the World Food Programme (WFP) began a "partial suspension" of aid to Sana’a and other Houthi-held areas of Yemen, after efforts failed to prevent aid being diverted from those who needed it most.
According to WFP, three-quarters of the people in Yemen who do not have reliable access to food - some nine million people - are in areas controlled by Houthis.
Human Rights Council session votes to probe Philippines’ deadly ‘war on drugs’
The Human Rights Council has urged the Philippines Government to do more to prevent extrajudicial killings, linked to its campaign against illegal drug use.
In a close vote, the 47-Member Council adopted a resolution which expressed concern that since President Rodrigo Duterte announced his so-called war on drugs in 2016, there have been allegations that thousands of people involved with the drug trade and drug use have been killed.
The resolution – which was adopted on Thursday by 18 votes to 14 with 15 abstentions – also appeals to the authorities to investigate the deaths and to hold perpetrators accountable.
The text also calls on the Philippines Government to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights by facilitating country visits and “refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation” against rights experts.