This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
‘€1 million’ fines for rescue boats prompts UN concern for future sea operations
A move by Italian lawmakers to impose fines of up to €1 million on vessels and organizations carrying out search and rescue operations off the country’s coastline, sparked a new warning on Tuesday from the UN that the measure risks deterring future lifesaving efforts in the Mediterranean.
Speaking in Geneva, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesperson Charlie Yaxley explained that the legislative move came at a time when other European countries had largely stopped sea rescue activities.
“Under changes approved by Parliament, fines for private vessels that undertake rescue of people and do not respect the ban on entry into territorial waters, have risen to a maximum of €1 million,” he said. “In addition, vessels will now be automatically impounded.”
So far this year, nearly 4,000 people have made the treacherous crossing to Europe via the so-called Central Mediterranean Route from North Africa to Italy, Mr. Yaxley said - nearly 80 per cent less than in the first seven months of last year.
All States have ‘primary responsibility’ to protect against hate attacks: UN’s Bachelet
The UN’s top rights official, Michelle Bachelet, has added her voice to condemnation of the weekend shootings in the United States, insisting on Tuesday that “not just the US but all States”, should do more to stop discrimination.
Speaking in Geneva, Ms. Bachelet’s spokesperson, Rupert Colville, welcomed US rejection of “racism, hatred and white supremacy” in the wake of the two tragedies which claimed at least 29 lives in Texas and Ohio on Saturday.
“We unequivocally condemn racism, xenophobia and intolerance in all their forms – including white supremacy - and we call for States in general - not just the U.S. but all States - to take positive steps to eradicate discrimination.”
Reflecting on measures that might stop a growing number of hate crimes in the US and elsewhere – and their amplification via Social Media - Mr. Colville urged online communications companies and governments to work together to ensure that human rights considerations were “baked in” when developing legislation, policies, and social media products to help identify and reduce risks.
Kashmir developments risk further impacting on people’s rights: UN
The Indian Government’s decision to revoke part of the constitution relating to the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir risks worsening democratic freedoms there, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Tuesday.
Amid reports that “hardly any information at all” is emerging from the Indian-administered side of the long-disputed territory, spokesperson Rupert Colville cited a UN report alleging that authorities suppressed communication networks, conducted arbitrary detentions, and punished opponents.
“We are seeing again blanket telecommunications restrictions – perhaps more blanket than we’ve ever seen before - the reported arbitrary detention of political leaders and restrictions on peaceful assembly. These restrictions will prevent the people of Indian-Administered Kashmir and their elected representatives from participating fully in democratic debate about the future status of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Tensions over Kashmir – which rose sharply after a deadly suicide bombing in February targeting Indian security forces in Pulwama - continue to have a “severe impact” on people’s rights, including the right to life, according to the UN human rights office.
India and Pakistan fought several conflicts over the disputed region and the UN has been mandated since 1949, to monitor the ceasefire between the two countries.
Musician’s call from the heart for 1.8 million hungry people in CAR
And finally, to Central African Republic, where widespread and severe food insecurity has prompted a singer to use his music to call for help.
Speaking – and singing – at the UN in Geneva, singer-songwriter Ozaguin warned that 1.8 million Central Africans – nearly half the population do not know where their next meal is coming from.
He told journalists how widespread hunger left people vulnerable to exploitation by armed gangs, echoing a warning from the World Food Programme that hundreds of thousands of people are too afraid of insecurity to access their land, or hunt for food.
More than 465,000 of the worst off, live in areas where armed clashes still occur, despite the signing of a peace accord between the Government and more than a dozen opposition groups in February.
The World Food Programme currently feeds 600,000 people a month in CAR, but it has warned that needs are massive.
Together with Ozaguin, the UN agency is warning that August is typically the month in which food insecurity is at its highest in CAR.
To reach 800,000 people by the end of the year, it needs $35.5 million.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.