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Mar 11, 2014

Rouhani has not increased freedoms in Iran, U.N. chief says

GENEVA (Reuters) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has failed to fulfil campaign promises to allow greater freedom of expression and there has been a sharp rise in executions since his election, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday.

Rouhani, who won a landslide in June, led Iran to an initial nuclear deal with world powers. But, perhaps wary of further antagonizing powerful hardliners, he has not made significant reforms at home that moderate voters had hoped for.

Mar 10, 2014

Northeast Syria faces food crisis, but access eases elsewhere-WFP

GENEVA, March 10 (Reuters) – Three northeastern provinces of
Syria face an “alarming” food crisis, although access to relieve
the impact of civil war has improved somewhat elsewhere, a U.N.
aid agency said on Monday.

Western powers and U.N. human rights investigators have
accused the Syrian government of a policy of “starvation until
submission” to punish tens of thousands of civilians in
rebel-held areas. Opposition forces are besieging two Shi’ite
Muslim villages with a total of 45,000 people in Aleppo

Mar 10, 2014

U.N. aims to bring killers to account in Central African Republic

GENEVA (Reuters) – The head of a United Nations inquiry said on Monday it was seeking to establish who should face prosecution for killings and other crimes in Central African Republic in order to halt for good bloodshed that has raised fears of genocide.

Thousands have been killed since the Seleka, a coalition of mostly Muslim northern rebels, seized power a year ago and launched a campaign of looting, torture and killing in the majority Christian country, triggering Christian reprisals. The UN estimates some 650,000 have been displaced by religious violence, while nearly 300,000 have fled to neighboring states.

Mar 7, 2014

U.N. says almost all Muslims have fled Central African capital

GENEVA (Reuters) – Fewer than 1,000 remain of more than 100,000 Muslims who once lived in the capital of the Central African Republic, after a campaign of violence by Christian militias, the U.N. aid chief said on Friday.

With 650,000 people displaced by the religious conflict, Valerie Amos said the United Nations had received much less than a fifth of the $551 million it asked for in December to provide food, medical care and shelter.

Mar 6, 2014

Uganda defends anti-gay law at main U.N. rights forum

GENEVA (Reuters) – Uganda, under fire from Western nations, defended its toughened law on gays on Thursday as being aimed at “protecting” youth from homosexuality and discouraging public displays of gay love.

The legislation, signed last month, strengthened punishments for anyone caught having gay sex, imposing jail terms of up to life for “aggravated homosexuality” – including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive. It also criminalizes lesbianism for the first time.

Mar 5, 2014

Chemical weapons used in Syria appear to come from army stockpile: U.N.

GENEVA (Reuters) – Chemical weapons used in two incidents in Syria last year appear to come from the stockpiles of the Syrian military, United Nations human rights investigators said on Wednesday in a report that went beyond previous findings.

The team of independent experts, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, said that so far they had confirmed the deadly nerve agent sarin was used in three incidents: the Damascus suburb of al-Ghouta on August 21, in Khan al-Assal near Aleppo in March 2013 and in Saraqeb near the northern town of Idlib last April.

Mar 5, 2014

World powers responsible for failing to stop Syria war crimes: U.N.

GENEVA (Reuters) – All sides in Syria’s civil war are using shelling and siege tactics to punish civilians and big powers bear responsibility for allowing such war crimes to persist, U.N. human rights investigators said on Wednesday.

In their latest report documenting atrocities in Syria, they called again on the U.N. Security Council to refer grave violations of the rules of war to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.

Feb 24, 2014

U.N. rights boss seeks international probe into Sri Lanka war crimes

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations’ human rights chief called on Monday for an international inquiry into war crimes committed by both sides during Sri Lanka’s civil war, saying the government had failed to do its own credible investigation.

In a much anticipated report ahead of a U.N. Human Rights Council debate next month that could order action on the issue, Navi Pillay recommended an “independent, international inquiry mechanism, which would contribute to establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed.”

Feb 24, 2014

U.N. rights envoy points to apartheid in Palestinian areas

GENEVA (Reuters) – Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip appear to amount to apartheid due to its systematic oppression of the Palestinian people and de facto expropriation of their land, a United Nations investigator said in a report.

Richard Falk, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said that Palestinian rights are being violated by Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian territory and “ethnic cleansing” of East Jerusalem.

Feb 21, 2014

Iran’s rising executions dim U.N. hopes for reforms

GENEVA (Reuters) – At least 80 people and perhaps as many as 95 have been executed in Iran already this year, a surge in the use of the death penalty that has dampened hopes for human rights reforms under President Hassan Rouhani, the United Nations said on Friday.

Rouhani, who won a surprise election last year on a platform of more openness with the West, clinched an interim deal in November with world powers over Iran’s nuclear program.