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News in Brief 28 April 2022

News in Brief 28 April 2022

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

UN chief in Ukraine: war is ‘evil’ and unacceptable, calls for justice

UN Secretary-General António Guterres visited sites of suspected war crimes in Ukraine on Thursday, where he condemned the “evil” violence committed against civilians and urged criminal accountability.

The UN chief’s visit to the Kyiv suburbs of Borodyanka, Bucha and Irpin comes nine weeks since the invasion by Russia, which Mr. Guterres urged “to accept to cooperate” with the ongoing investigation launched by the International Criminal Court, the ICC:

“When we see this horrendous site, it makes me feel how important it is [to have] a thorough investigation and accountability. I fully support the International Criminal Court and I appeal to the Russian Federation to accept to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.”

Earlier this month, UN rights chief, Michelle Bachelet said that she had been “horrified” by images showing the bodies of dead civilians lying in the streets of Bucha, and in improvised graves.

Echoing the Secretary-General’s call for justice for the victims of atrocities in Ukraine, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said that he favoured neither Russia nor Ukraine in the search for the truth.

Here’s Karim Khan now, speaking to journalists on Wednesday evening outside the Security Council at UN headquarters in New York:

“This is not really a time for talking, it’s a time for action. International law can’t be a passive spectator. It can’t be sedentary. It needs to move with alacrity and to protect and to insist on accountability…the law is above us, and if the law is not above us, there’s nothing below us, except the abyss.”

ICC Prosecutor Khan launched an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity on 2 March, at the request of more than 40 Member States.

A team of analysts, anthropologists and investigators have already examined several locations in Ukraine, including Lviv, Kyiv and Bucha.

Lula trial in Brazil violated due process, says UN rights panel

The prosecution of Brazil’s former President, Luiz da Silva, violated his right to a fair trial, his right to privacy and his political rights, the UN Human Rights Committee has found.

The Committee, whose members are independent rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council, issued its findings after the former President – who’s commonly called by his nickname, Lula, filed a complaint to the panel.

He was Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010 and a target in a massive corruption probe called Operation Car Wash.

Investigators uncovered corruption between the State-owned oil and petrol company, Petrobrás, several construction companies, and various Brazilian politicians, relating to secret campaign funds.

In July 2017, Lula was sentenced to nine years in prison; this was later increased to 12 years, effectively preventing him from standing again for president during that time.

The Human Rights Committee noted that wiretaps of Lula and his family had been approved and released to the media before formal charges were made.

This and other incidents contravened his right to privacy and his right to the presumption of innocence, the Committee said.

“While States have a duty to investigate and prosecute acts of corruption and to keep the population informed, especially when a former head of State is concerned, such actions must be conducted fairly and respect due process guarantees,” said Committee member Arif Bulkan.

Africa sees surge in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases

Africa is in the grip of a surge in outbreaks of diseases that can and should be prevented through vaccinations, the UN health agency said on Thursday.

In an alert, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the continent recorded almost 17,500 cases of measles between January and March this year.

That marks a 400 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2021, and it’s been caused by the fact that 20 countries reported measles outbreaks in the first quarter of this year, which is eight more than 12 months ago.

Outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases are also more common now, the WHO said.

It pointed to the 24 countries that have confirmed outbreaks of polio in 2021, which is four more than in 2020.

Yellow fever has also spiked in Africa, with 13 countries seeing outbreaks in 2021, compared with nine in 2020 and just three in 2019.

Among the reasons for the problem, WHO cited ongoing inequalities in accessing vaccines and disruption to local health care caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both have impaired routine immunization services in many African countries and forced the suspension of vaccination drives.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • UN chief in Ukraine: war is ‘evil’ and unacceptable, calls for justice

  • Lula trial in Brazil violated due process, says UN rights panel

  • Africa sees surge in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
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Photo Credit
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe