This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Human Rights Council agrees on fact-finding mission to Venezuela
The UN’s top human rights body agreed on Friday to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Venezuela, in response to grave concerns about killings and other abuses linked to the country’s ongoing political and economic crisis.
The development follows a vote at the Human Rights Council that was supported by less than half of the forum’s 47 Member States, including several South American countries, such as Colombia, Argentina and Peru.
The resolution condemned the “widespread targeted repression and persecution on political grounds” in Venezuela, the “excessive” use of force against peaceful protests and during security op erations.
In addition, it highlighted arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances carried out by the Special Action Forces and pro-government civilian armed groups.
At least 6,000 people have been killed in security operations since January 2018, the resolution maintained, while also urging the authorities to release all political prisoners immediately.
This includes the 27 individuals identified by High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, earlier this month.
Brutal violence in northern Nigeria forces thousands into Niger
To Nigeria now, where more than 40,000 people have left the country’s north-west seeking shelter in Niger after an upsurge in attacks since the start of the year.
The escalating violence in Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina – which has been attributed to criminal gangs, rather than terrorists - has led to a new humanitarian emergency in Niger’s border regions, the UN Refugee Agency’s Babar Baloch told journalists in Geneva on Friday:
“People are seeking safety from indiscriminate attacks unleashed by organized armed groups on men, women and children alike. There have been frequent reports of kidnappings, torture, extortion, murder, sexual violence and destruction of houses and property… On September 11 alone, more than 2,500 people fled when civilians were targeted by armed groups on the Nigerian side.”
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, is working with local authorities and partners to assist refugees, many of whom are arriving traumatized and with few belongings.
New arrivals are registered in six mobile units installed in the border regions, while a new field office has also opened with emergency staff to respond to the humanitarian needs.
Zimbabwe must act quicker on democratic vision, urges UN-appointed independent expert
And finally, Zimbabwe should do more to embrace and safeguard democracy, a top UN-appointed rights investigator said on Friday, at the end of the first visit there by an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council.
In a statement, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expressed his support for the Government’s stated commitment to democratisation.
But two years since Emmerson Mnangagwa became President, after the removal of long-term leader Robert Mugabe, Mr. Voule urged the authorities to go further in promoting people’s rights and engage in “genuine dialogue” with all those affected by austerity measures.
In his appeal, the Special Rapporteur cited concern over the “excessive” use of force by police and military during protests.
Putting troops in the streets was becoming “commonplace”, he added, while also insisting that it was vital for police or military personnel who committed human rights violations to be held accountable.
Mr. Voule’s comments come as UN aid agencies continue to warn of widespread and food insecurity in the country, which has been left reeling by a slow-burning economic collapse made worse by drought and the impact of Cyclone Idai in March.
According to a recent update by UN humanitarian coordinating agency OCHA, some 5.5 million people in rural areas are now food insecure.
This is in addition to 2 .2 million people in urban areas.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.