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Mar 17, 2014

China rejects North Korean crimes report, hits chance of prosecution

GENEVA (Reuters) – China dismissed a U.N. report alleging North Korea has committed crimes against humanity, effectively confirming the fears of human rights advocates that Beijing will shield its ally Pyongyang from international prosecution.

The report, published in February, accused the reclusive country of mass killings and torture comparable to Nazi-era atrocities and said officials, possibly even Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un himself, should face the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Mar 16, 2014

Long road to hold Kim, North Korea liable for crimes

GENEVA (Reuters) – Western and Asian powers will begin pressing this week for North Korea to be held liable for crimes against humanity documented in a United Nations report, but concede that their chances of influencing the isolated country are slim.

North Korean security chiefs and possibly even Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un should face international justice for ordering systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable with Nazi-era atrocities, U.N. investigators said last month.

Mar 14, 2014

Rouhani has not stopped Iran suppressing human rights – UN envoy

GENEVA, March 14 (Reuters) – President Hassan Rouhani has
made only “baby steps” to improve human rights in Iran where
forces loyal to the supreme leader are “working to suppress the
rights of people,” a United Nations investigator said on Friday.

Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in
Iran, said the country was holding almost 900 political
prisoners, “including people persecuted for religious
activities, lawyers and journalists.”

Mar 13, 2014

U.N. rights watchdog urges release of Senate report on CIA torture

GENEVA (Reuters) – A United Nations human rights watchdog called on the United States on Thursday to release a report on a Bush-era interrogation program at the heart of a dispute between the CIA and a Senate panel.

Critics, including experts on the U.N. civil and political rights panel, say the CIA program set up after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States included harsh interrogation methods that constituted torture banned by international law.

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
province.

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.