This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN independent experts urge Italy to stop 'criminalising' migrant rescues
Italy should rethink its stance on the rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, UN-appointed independent rights experts have said, citing with concern ongoing criminal proceedings there against the captain of a vessel who landed 40 people on Italian territory last month.
In a joint statement on Thursday, the five experts – who are appointed by Member States of the Human Rights Council – said that rescuing migrants in distress at sea “is not a crime”.
They highlighted the case of German skipper Carola Rackete, who was arrested on 29 June after docking on the island of Lampedusa with her rescue vessel and dozens of migrants.
Although a judge dismissed the charges against her, she faces further hearings relating to endangering the lives of police officers and facilitating illegal migration.
This kind of action “put(s) the lives of thousands of migrants attempting to cross the sea at risk”, the experts said, while also noting that the judge who released Ms. Rackete has herself been attacked in the media and by Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini.
The development follows Italy’s decision last month to impose fines on vessels for every person rescued at sea and transferred to Italian territory, which the rights experts said “directly contravene” Italy’s obligations to respect the right to life.
In Myanmar, girls trafficked abroad for sex work, says UN independent expert
To Myanmar now, where conflict is reportedly ongoing between separatists and the country’s military in Chin and Rakhine states, and girls as young as nine are being trafficked abroad for sex work, a senior UN-appointed independent investigator said on Thursday.
Since January, the total number of people displaced by the violence could be as high as 55,000 in the two states, Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee said.
Less than two years ago, more than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya – who are mainly Muslim – were driven from Rakhine, seeking shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh.
In comments that followed her official visit to Thailand and Malaysia, Ms. Lee said that she had been distressed to hear reports that very young girls and women have been trafficked from northern Myanmar to neighbouring countries for sex work.
Years of conflict in northern Shan and Kachin have left families financially desperate, making women and girls vulnerable to abuse, the rights expert explained, before urging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to prioritise human rights in Myanmar, and to encourage the country’s authorities to do the same.
Some 1.5 million Myanmar refugees now shelter in neighbouring countries, according to Ms. Lee, who said that in addition to people-trafficking and smuggling, the drug trade was a further example of “deepening concerns”.
World 'off track' to meet most Sustainable Development Goals on hunger, food security and nutrition
And finally key parts of the Global Goals agenda linked to achieving zero-hunger are “off-track”, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO
), said on Thursday.
Four years since the international community agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals
- whose objectives include tackling food insecurity and poor nutrition - FAO says that a lack of progress “is the norm”.
In a new report, the agency also warns of unsuccessful efforts to make farming sustainable, as well as the long-term management of land and ocean-based resources.
Key findings from the study that covers some 230 countries include data that more than 820 million people are going hungry around the world.
That number has been rising for three years in a row “and is back to levels seen in 2010-2011”, FAO says.
The percentage of hungry people has also slightly increased between 2015 and 2018, to 10.8 per cent.
Among the report’s other findings is the warning that 60 per cent of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction in the 70 countries for which information is available.
Examples include Fogera cattle from Ethiopia, and Bali’s Gembrong goat, according to FAO, which says that there has been "no progress” in conserving the animal DNA that would be nee ded to create new herds in case of extinction, with less one per cent of their genetic blueprint currently stored.
Daniel Johnson, UN News