This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
US death penalty must be abolished, rights experts urge President Biden
President Biden should do everything in his power to end death row executions in the United States, UN-appointed independent rights experts said on Thursday.
The call comes after a resumption of federal executions in the US in the last year of Donald Trump’s Presidency, in which 13 people were put to death.
In their appeal to the White House, the rights experts insisted that the death penalty served “no deterrent value and cannot be reconciled with the right to life”.
The punishment is “inherently flawed” and disproportionately affected African-Americans and people living in poverty, they maintained.
Due process guarantees were also violated by the practice, the rights experts alleged, before calling on Mr. Biden to grant clemency to 48 people, many on death row for more than a decade.
Thousands more individuals remain on state death rows across the country and several executions are scheduled at the state level this year.
In their appeal for concrete measures to halt the practice, the experts urged lawmakers to consider linking federal funding to alternative sentencing and banning the sale and transport of chemicals used in lethal injections.
Although 108 countries have abolished capital punishment, 60 per cent of the world's population live in the 48 countries that retain it, including China, India and Iran.
South Sudan ‘home to tens of thousands of well-coordinated fighters’
To South Sudan now, and an appeal for action from UN Member States to end widespread bloodshed in the country, almost 10 years after independence.
Addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, rights expert Yasmin Sooka said that levels of violence today were the worst since the onset of the civil war in December 2013.
This is especially true for people in the states of Central Equatoria, Jonglei, Warrap State and Greater Pibor Administrative Area, said Ms. Sooka, Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan to the Human Rights Council.
She highlighted how hundreds of women and girls had been abducted, raped and forcibly married off last year, adding that “all warring groups” were to blame. During one attack on a village in Jonglei, at least 140 women and children including infants were abducted and 175,000 head of cattle were taken, she added:
“There are now a staggering number of fighters there – tens of thousands of well-coordinated men in this one area – armed with sophisticated, military-grade weapons. Abducted boys have been forced to fight.”
In addition to the militia groups that have murdered and forcibly displaced thousands of civilians after burning entire villages to the ground, Ms. Sooka underscored the underlying humanitarian crisis that has been aggravated by COVID-19 and recurring floods.
Myanmar: UN Security Council strongly condemns violence against peaceful protesters
The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned the violence against peaceful protesters in Myanmar and voiced “deep concern” at movement restrictions, amid ongoing protests at the military takeover last month.
In a statement issued on Wednesday night, the 15-member body also reiterated its call for the immediate release of all those detained arbitrarily.
The Council also expressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes and refrain from violence, while also urging humanitarian access to all those in need, as the situation had the potential to make matters worse in Rakhine state and other regions.
According to UN figures, separate from the political strife that has resulted from the 1 February military takeover, about one million people are in need of support and protection across Myanmar.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.