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Resources updated between Monday, February 10, 2014 and Sunday, February 16, 2014

February 14, 2014

Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur

Richard Falk, a soon to be former UN "Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories," has released his final report to the UN Human Rights Council. The report is scheduled to be presented and discussed at the Council on March 24, 2014 in Geneva. In the past, Falk has glorified Ayatollah Khomeini as a "true revolutionary", publicly supported investigating theories that the 9/11 was an "inside job", analogized Israeli actions to that of the Nazis, and defended the Boston marathon bombing.

In his final antisemitic diatribe published and distributed by the United Nations, Falk accuses Israel of "ethnic cleansing" and "apartheid": "An oppressive occupation ...seems designed to encourage residents to leave Palestine, which is consistent with the apparent annexationist, colonialist and ethnic-cleansing goals of Israel...Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are...subject to a gradual and bureaucratic process of ethnic cleansing...The question of apartheid and segregation: ...[I]n the present report the Special Rapporteur assumes part of the task of analysing whether allegations of apartheid in occupied Palestine are well founded...Concluding remarks...practices and policies...appear to constitute apartheid..."

Good riddance Mr. Falk.

In his final UN report, UN expert & antisemite Richard Falk reaches new low Development

A hanging in Iran

Shadi Paveh, a prominent Iranian human rights activist, is launching an international petition to "stop the executions in Iran."

The Islamic Republic of Iran currently ranks first for per capita executions in the world. In a time where the world is naively rejoicing in the election of a 'moderate' new Iranian president; Iran has stepped up its executions dramatically since the elections of June 2013. It is estimated, that on average, Iran hangs someone every seven hours, inhumanely from cranes, for some 131 capital offences which include a wide range of crimes such as murder, adultery, drug trafficking, rape, homosexuality, apostasy and vaguely worded offences such as 'enemy of God' and 'corrupters on earth'...

Additionally, the regime has devised a clever, new method of executing political prisoners silently by withholding urgently needed medical care required for either injuries sustained during torture or pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes. The regime then simply announces that the prisoner died from natural causes in prison, thus avoiding reporting the death as an execution.

The actual number of executions is a state secret and the authorities permit only a proportion of death sentences and executions to be reported to the public. Furthermore, Iran remains one of few countries that has executed juveniles as young as 12 by firing squad. Today, Iran claims they no longer execute juveniles, which is due to the fact that the minor in question is kept in prison until he reaches the age of majority at which time he/she can be executed as an adult. Iran continues to carry out large number of hangings in public where children as young as three have been seen among the crowd of onlookers...

Iran remains one of the few countries that practices stoning of both men and women for adultery. There are currently 12 individuals in Iran awaiting this horrific and grotesque form of execution. It is believed that 200 individuals have been stoned in Iran thus far; the majority of whom are young women. Adulterers are bound and buried to the chest or waist and are slowly stoned to death which can take many hours...

Help us stop the executions in Iran by signing this petition."

Stop the Executions by the Islamic Republic of Iran Document

February 13, 2014

"An 18-year-old pregnant Ethiopian woman who was the victim of a brutal gang-rape last August in Omdurman has been sleeping on the concrete floor of a police cell since her arrest on 17 January, advocacy group, the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), said in a public statement on Tuesday...

The attack was filmed by one of the participants and later circulated on social media. SIHA said the woman, who is married and was about three months pregnant at the time of the attack, decided not to report the rape out of fear after her attackers threatened further violence. The woman was detained last month under Articles 153 and 154 of Sudan's criminal code, pertaining to the making and distribution of indecent material and indecent behaviour...

[R]epeated attempts by legal representatives to have her bail application heard have been refused on the grounds that the investigation is still ongoing. An application to the attorney-general submitted on behalf of the victim in order to arrange a meeting to file a rape case against the perpetrators has also been declined...The case has highlighted the racial prejudices that exist in Sudan against Ethiopian migrants, with the victim publicly portrayed as a promiscuous woman and willing participant in her attack...

The report produced by Canada's Nobel Women's Initiative in partnership with the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict, described the situation faced by survivors of rape and sexual violence in Sudan as 'dire', with victims routinely threatened, jailed and denied medical treatment. According to the report, one of the most daunting challenges facing rape survivors in Sudan is the fact that the burden of proof often rests with the victim. Those that do come forward to report their rape risk being accused of adultery, an offence punishable by flogging or death by stoning if the woman is married."

Sudan: Pregnant Gang Rape Victim Remains in Police Custody Document

"Saudi Arabia, which has the largest number of Twitter users relative to internet users in the world, has formed a special task force to track users of the popular social media who are accused of spreading vice and witchcraft. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which serves as the religious police of the conservative Gulf kingdom, is conducting surveillance of Twitter accounts in an effort to reign in heightened interest in subjects related to sorcery.

The religious public watchdog is keeping a lookout for those accounts which 'are spreading vice and witchcraft' through the community, said Ahmed Al Jardan, the Commission's spokesman, as quoted by the Saudi news network Al Arabiya. 'We will track down all those who are behind these accounts whether they are men or women...we are determined to eliminate these accounts before they become widespread and out of control,' he said...

Al Arabiya quoted Saudi Arabia's Mufti, the country's leading Islamic cleric, as saying that social media networks like Twitter have become a "podium for spreading evil and bad ideas and exchanging accusations and lies" by many of their subscribers. 'Many Twitter users in the kingdom are also fools who lack modesty and faith,' he said.

The crackdown on Twitter users comes in the same week that Riyadh passed new counter-terrorism legislation that makes it an act of terrorism for any person to disturb public order or defame the reputation of the state or the king."

Saudi Arabia launches crackdown on Twitter 'vice and witchcraft' Human Rights Voices

UN whistleblower James Wasserstrom

"A campaign led by a U.N. whistleblower that successfully changed U.S. law could cost the United Nations hundreds of millions of dollars if it doesn't adhere to 'best practices' to protect any U.N. employee who reports wrongdoing...

James Wasserstrom, an American who accused senior colleagues of retaliating after he alleged corruption in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, said in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press that the new law is 'a major step in the right direction to put pressure on the United Nations and all of its agencies to clean up their acts when it comes to internal corruption.'

'This is not a U.S.-U.N. issue,' stressed Wasserstrom, who led the campaign to change the U.S. law. 'This is an issue that affects all major donors. They should all be demanding immediate reforms of the U.N. in fighting fraud, waste and abuse.'

Wasserstrom, who was the lead anti-corruption officer at the Kosovo Mission in 2007, was awarded $65,000 after the U.N. Dispute Tribunal ruled that he was subjected to "wholly unacceptable treatment" and "appalling" acts in violation of the rule of law and human rights. The United Nations is appealing the ruling and the award, and Wasserstrom's attorneys are appealing the amount of the award, saying it is insufficient...

The U.S. pays 22 percent of the U.N.'s regular budget, which for 2014-2015 totals $5.53 billion. It also pays hundreds of millions of dollars for the separate budgets to cover U.N. peacekeeping operations and the work of U.N. agencies that deal with children, refugees, food, agriculture and other global issues...

Dylan Blaylock, a spokesman for the Goverment Accountability Project, said Friday: 'Problems involving corruption at the United Nations remain widespread, and this new requirement will help protect whistleblowers like James Wasserstrom who are simply trying to expose wrongdoing so it can be corrected.'"

Problems involving corruption at the United Nations remain widespread Article

UN headquarters, New York City

"Most of us will go through life without ever making this discovery, but Brian Concannon has learned something interesting in the past few months: Suing the United Nations is really hard to do.

It isn't that winning a suit against the UN is just difficult; it's that a victory is almost impossible. Even serving legal documents on its New York headquarters is harder than one might think. 'It's a huge game of cat-and-mouse, Concannon said the other day, sitting in his Andrew Square office. 'You take it to headquarters, they won't let you in. You mail it return receipt and they won't acknowledge that they have received it.'

Concannon is head of a Boston-based nonprofit called the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. For a year, the institute has been trying to bring attention to - and get action on - the scourge of cholera in Haiti. Concannon's work has gotten the UN's attention.

The basic facts are not really disputed, not even by the UN. A peacekeeping force from Nepal introduced cholera into the drinking water following the earthquake that racked Haiti in 2010...In a medical nightmare worsened by chronically inadequate sanitation, cholera has killed an estimated 4,000 Haitians so far - with the emphasis on estimated...

Ultimately, Concannon said he believes that the UN - which enjoys broad immunity from lawsuits - has resorted to the strategy of acknowledging the widespread incidence of cholera, while downplaying its culpability...

Under pressure, the United Nations has floated a $2.2 billion plan to clean up the water supply in Haiti. The UN says it is in the process of appointing a commission that might oversee said plan. Appointing members is expected to take until April. The UN isn't famous for its sense of urgency."

Nonprofit discovers "suing the United Nations is really hard to do" Article

February 12, 2014

UN Secretary-General at the Iranian reception

The IRNA, the official news agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, reports that the "Islamic Revolution [35th] anniversary was celebrated" at the United Nations on February 10, 2014. The reception was held at the luxurious Delegates Dining Room at the UN headquarters in New York City. According to the IRNA the attendees included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President of the UN General Assembly John W. Ashe, ambassadors and diplomats from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America, and "representatives of different world media stationed at the UN" as well as some "well-known American journalists." Ban Ki-moon told IRNA he was "pleased to felicitate victory of Islamic Revolution", while John Ashe "expressed hope that Iran, like in the past, plays its important and historical role in the region and the world."

The Iranian UN Ambassador Mohammed Khazee, told the Press TV that the "celebration was very well attended, showing that Iran is a very important force in global politics and relations."

And this is how the 35th anniversary was "celebrated" in Iran. Israel Hayom reports that massive rallies "featured a new American target for their traditional 'death to' slogans. Besides the usual chants of 'Down with the U.S.!' and 'Death to Israel!' many demonstrators took aim at Wendy Sherman, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, who has frequently led U.S. delegations in nuclear talks with Tehran. 'Death to Sherman!' the crowd shouted - the first time that an undersecretary of state has been the target of invectives that are usually reserved for American presidents and occasionally U.S. secretaries of state...During Tuesday's rallies, the crowd burned American and Israeli flags with pictures of President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - moves that are commonplace at most Iranian rallies."

Also, on the eve of the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution 300 Iranian opposition associations from all around the world gathered in Paris. The congress "denounced" 500 people executed in the last six months, since the so-called moderate Rouhani took office, and "the silence of the international community especially of the United States, Europe and the UN on the barbaric and systematic violation of human rights in their country".

"Victory of Islamic Revolution" celebrated at UN Article

Homs, Syria

On February 10, 2014 both Russia's and China's UN ambassadors were no-shows at the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the Western and Arab-backed Syria resolution.

The Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, told the New York Times: "This text would not have any practical, positive impact on the situation". The Chinese ambassador, Liu Jieyi, said that he was "concerned that a humanitarian resolution would disrupt the political talks underway in Geneva" but he refused to say whether China would veto a proposed resolution.

The draft resolution, which was presented to the 15 Council members on February 11, 2014, "condemns attacks against humanitarian workers, expresses 'grave alarm' at the plight of civilians trapped in the fighting, most of whom it said are 'besieged by the Syrian armed forces,' and deplores blockades of aid. it specifically calls on the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad to cease 'aerial bombardment' against civilians, including the use of so-called barrel bombs; urges rebels to dissociate themselves from terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda; and calls on foreign fighters, including members of Hezbollah from Lebanon and the Quds Force from Iran, to leave the country. It also contains a paragraph on accountability for war criminals, and proposes imposing measures on individuals and entities that obstruct aid delivery."

The UN emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos, who has avoided calling for a resolution, is supposed to brief the UN Security Council on Syria on February 13, 2014. Only after a briefing are Council members likely to decide whether to put the resolution to a vote.

In the meantime the Syrians are dying. On February 9, 2014, a convoy of aid workers with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent accompanied by United Nations officials came under fire when it tried to reach a besieged city of Homs and 11 people were killed as aid workers delivered food and medicine. The UN Secretary-General's office refused to comment on who might have fired at a convoy. "I don't think we would want to get into apportioning blame," said Martin Nesirky, a spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Russia, China skip Security Council talks on Syria Article

February 10, 2014

The body of Polin Pumandele with his family one last time.

"Polin Pumandele was killed about 9:30 a.m. He was a Christian walking in a Muslim enclave, carrying wood to sell. In these tense days, that is enough reason to die in the Central African Republic. A Muslim mob confronted Pumandele, 23, on a side street and pushed him around. Then, they threw him into a ditch. At least one man stabbed him before his throat was slit...Stationed nearby was a group of Burundian peacekeepers, ordered by the United Nations to protect civilians. But they didn't know about the killing until some men - perhaps his killers - brought Pumandele's mutilated body past them in a wheelbarrow. They dumped his body outside the Red Cross office across from the Burundian base. And just as swiftly, Pumandele was taken to the morgue, adding to the rolls of the dead in Africa's latest war...Pumandele was a victim of circumstance. Half an hour before he was killed, heavy gunfire erupted near the Grand Mosque, near the Red Cross office, in PK 5, one of the last remaining Muslim enclaves in the capital. Muslims accused three Christians - Pumandele and two friends - of carrying grenades and seeking to hurl them into the mosque. The Burundian soldiers took into custody two of the men, but Pumandele ran in the other direction. There were no grenades, the Burundians later said. All the youths had was fear. Pumandele simply ran the wrong way."

Lynching Of Christian Man By Muslims Said to be Sign Of "Chaos" In Central African Republic Document

Gabriela Knaul, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

On February 5, 2014 the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul concluded her visit to the United Arab Emirates. Her job includes examining the functioning of its justice system. The post of the Special Rapporteur was created in 1994 based on "both the increasing frequency of attacks on the independence of judges, lawyers and court officials and the link which exists between the weakening of safeguards for the judiciary and lawyers and the gravity and frequency of violations of human rights."

At the end of her mission, the UN expert shared a few "preliminary observations" at a press conference in Abu Dhabi. Her words included: "I wish to commend the recognition of the principle of the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in the Constitution of 1971... The United Arab Emirates have come a long way since their independence in 1971...the achievements should be acknowledged and commended." The Special Rapporteur also lauded the UAE's "very advanced computer-based systems" for the management of the courts and cases and "impressive applications for mobile phones which facilitate the work of judges, lawyers and court users alike."

Actually, the main feature of the UAE's judiciary is that court decisions are subject to review by the local rulers' offices, or "diwans". According to the 2012 State Department report on human rights situation in the UAE:

    "By tradition the local rulers' offices, or "diwans," maintained the practice of reviewing some criminal and civil offenses before they referred cases to prosecutors. They also reviewed sentences judges passed, returned cases to the court on appeal if they did not approve of the verdicts, and approved the release of every prisoner who had completed a sentence. The diwans' involvement...led to lengthy delays prior to and following the judicial process and lengthened the time defendants served in prison. A diwan's decision in any court case was considered final. If a judge and a diwan disagreed, the diwan's decision prevailed."
The Special Rapporteur also addressed "equal access to justice." She phrased her observations in ambiguous terms: "It seems that women... are still faced with institutionalized gender discrimination within the administration of justice" and "I was told, for instance, that the majority of sexual assault cases do not reach the courts." The Special Rapporteur also failed to express "concern" for treatment of women before the UAE courts and said she only "encourages" the UAE government to take "measures to mainstream a gender-based approach in the justice system."

In fact, however, the inequality of women before the law in the United Arab Emirates has been well documented. The 2012 State Department Report, for example, highlights the following abuses:
    "The constitution does not prohibit discrimination based on gender... The penal code does not address spousal rape. The penal code allows men to use physical means, including violence, at their discretion against female and minor family members...There were reports that employers raped or sexually assaulted foreign domestic workers. These cases rarely made it to court, and those that did had a low conviction rate. In courts that applied Sharia, the extremely high burden of proof for a rape case contributed to a low conviction rate. In addition female victims of rape or sexual crimes faced the possibility of prosecution instead of assistance from government authorities... Fornication outside of marriage is a crime, and the government may imprison and deport noncitizen women if they bear children out of wedlock. Paternity denial was an emerging phenomenon in the courts...In the absence of an acknowledged father, the mothers of these children faced potential legal charges of adultery, for which the punishment can be lashing."

The UAE gets a slap on the wrist from the UN expert for its appalling mistreatment of women Development