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News in Brief 29 April 2020

News in Brief 29 April 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Myanmar: possible war crimes and crimes against humanity

A rising number of attacks by the Myanmar military on ethnic communities in the country, have raised fears of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity there.

UN-appointed human rights expert Yanghee Lee on Wednesday called for an investigation into events in Rakhine and Chin States, where she said that air and artillery strikes had killed and injured scores of adults and children.

Armed conflict has taken place in Rakhine and Chin States since December 2018 between the Myanmar military known as the Tatmadaw, and the Arakan Army.

More than 157,000 people have been displaced, and hundreds including women and children killed and wounded since the conflict started.

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar noted that calls for a ceasefire have gone unheeded.

Instead, government soldiers have prevented injured people from accessing urgent medical care, Ms. Lee insisted, while men suspected of links to the Arakan Army have been “detained…and tortured”.

Schools, houses and a Buddhist temple have been burned or destroyed, including an entire village of up to 700 homes, said the rights expert, who also called on the Arakan Army to protect civilians.

Cybercrime and online fraud, heighten privacy and data threats amid pandemic

People’s data and privacy are unprotected in one third of countries and there has been a rise in cybercrime and online fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic, UN researchers said on Wednesday.

In a survey on global cyberlaw, UN trade and development agency UNCTAD, found that while two-thirds of nations safeguard online data and privacy – an improvement since 2015 – in least developed countries, only 43 per cent of them do so.

Here’s Shamika Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s division on technology and logistics:

“Cybercrime, scams and online fraud, they are all on the rise. It’s largely because we are now largely dependent on…medication and to connect with our friends and loved ones. So, we are totally dependent on the digital realm. And if citizens are not protected, they are subjected to all sorts of scams and online fraud. And these numbers are rising.”

The UNCTAD data highlights how the fast-changing cybercrime landscape has proved a significant challenge to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, especially for cross-border enforcement.

But it notes that more and more countries are taking steps to reassure and protect online consumers with draft legislation that is expected to become law this year.

These include Thailand and Brazil, which have based their legislation on European data protection laws, which are similar to those already in force in Australia, New Zealand, Korea and South Africa.

Rights experts appeal for Lao victims of dam disaster who lost everything

To Lao People’s Democratic Republic now, where UN-appointed independent rights experts have urged the authorities to help communities affected by a dam disaster nearly two years ago.

The breach of an auxiliary dam of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydropower project, in July 2018, led to flooding that killed at least 71 people and left thousands of others homeless. In a statement on Wednesday, the Working Group on Business and Human Rights said that survivors, who include vulnerable indigenous groups, had “lost everything”.

They have yet to receive adequate compensation and live in inadequate temporary housing with little privacy and inadequate access to food, water, medical supplies, sanitation and land, the panel said, along with five Special Rapporteurs appointed by the Human Rights Council.

Noting that the Lao Government “claims to be doing its utmost to help people”, the experts said that this had been contradicted by reports that displaced communities are needlessly suffering.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Myanmar: possible war crimes and crimes against humanity

  • Cybercrime and online fraud, heighten privacy and data threats amid pandemic

  • Rights experts appeal for Lao victims of dam disaster who lost everything

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
© UNICEF/Nyan Zay Htet