US Withdraws From UN Human Rights Council

The US has pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council, calling it a “cesspool of political bias”.

The “hypocritical and self-serving” body “makes a mockery of human rights”, said US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley.

Ms Haley last year accused the council of “chronic anti-Israel bias” and said the US was reviewing its membership.

Formed in 2006, the Geneva-based council has been criticised for allowing countries with questionable human rights records to be members.

But activists said the US move could hurt efforts to monitor and address human rights abuses around the world.

Ms Haley announced the US’s intention to quit the council at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who called the council “a poor defender of human rights”.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in a statement released through his spokesman, responded by saying he would have “much preferred” the US to remain in the council.

The UN human rights commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called the US withdrawal “disappointing, if not really surprising, news”. Israel, meanwhile, has praised the decision.

The move comes amid intense criticism over the Trump administration’s policy of separating child migrants from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

BBC

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Egypt Safer Than US And UK – Poll

Egypt has been ranked the safest country in Africa and higher than both the UK and US, according to a new global poll.

The annual Gallup Global Law and Order asked if people felt safe walking at night and whether they had been victims of crime.

The survey placed Egypt 16th out of 135 countries, while the UK was 21st and the US 35th.

Singapore was ranked the safest, with Venezuela was seen as the least.

Egypt got 88 out of 100, placing it on the same level as countries like Denmark, Slovenia and China. This was an improvement on 2016, when it got 82.

Gallup says it interviewed 148,000 adults in 142 countries and areas for its survey.

Its questions revolved around confidence in local police, safety at night, cases of theft and whether participants or a family member had been mugged or assaulted within the past 12 months.

In Afghanistan (46%), Uganda (49%) and South Sudan (50%) residents were more likely than lowest ranked Venezuelan to say they had been the victims of theft in the past year.

South Sudan was ranked the least safe country in Africa.

The East African nation is followed by Gabon, Liberia and South Africa, one of the continent’s most popular tourist destinations.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, just 60% of people polled told Gallup they were confident in the local police force, rising to 68% across North Africa and the Middle East.

Rwanda scored highest on the continent when it came to safety at night, with 88% of people saying they would be happy to walk about after dark.

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Summit With North Korea Better Than Expected, Says Trump

President of the United States, Donald Trump, has said a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday had gone “better than anybody could have expected”.

He also said they would sign a document following talks on ways to end a nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim stood silently alongside Trump as he spoke to media during a post-lunch stroll through the gardens of the Singapore hotel where the summit was held, but the North Korean leader had earlier described their meeting as a “a good prelude to peace”.

Both men walked to Trump’s limousine and looked in at the rear seat, with Trump apparently showing Kim something inside.

They then resumed their walk.

“A lot of progress – really very positive. I think better than anybody could have expected. Top of the line, very good.

“We’re going now for a signing,” Trump said.

He however did not give details of what would be signed.

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Uganda Imposes Social Media Tax

The Ugandan parliament has passed a law to impose a controversial tax on people using social media platforms, says BBC.

It imposes a 200 shilling [$0.05] daily levy on people using internet messaging platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber and Twitter.

President Yoweri Museveni had pushed for the changes, arguing that social media encouraged gossip.

The law should come into effect on July 1 but there remain doubts about how it will be implemented.

The new Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill will also impose various other taxes, including a 1% levy on the total value of mobile money transactions – which civil society groups complain will affect poorer Ugandans who rarely use banking services.

State Minister for Finance David Bahati told parliament that the tax increases were needed to help Uganda pay off its growing national debt.

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Govt Bans Public Wearing Of Face Veils

Denmark has banned the wearing of face veils in public, joining France and other parts of Europe in outlawing the burqa and the niqab worn by some Muslim women.

Parliament voted on Thursday for the law proposed by the centre-right government which said face veils were contrary to Danish values, Reuters reported.

Opponents say the ban, which comes into effect on August 1 infringes women’s right to dress as they choose.

Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen said police would not order offenders to remove their veils, but would fine them and tell them to go home.

Fines will range from 1,000 Danish crowns ($160) for a first offence to 10,000 crowns for the fourth violation.

France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have all imposed some restrictions on full-face veils in public places.

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UN To Honour Three Fallen Nigerian Peacekeepers

Three fallen Nigerian peacekeepers will be honoured, among others, in commemoration of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, the United Nations (UN) has said.

The three Nigerians are: Ali Suleiman, a Lt. Col. who served with the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); Warrant Officer Remmy Amakwe who was deployed with the African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID); and Kolawole Shogaolu who served in a civilian capacity in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

According to a statement by the National Information Officer, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Oluseyi Soremekun, the commemoration will begin on Tuesday, May 29 and the honouring of fallen heroes will take place in New York on Friday, June 1.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres will visit the United Nations Peacekeepers in Mali on May 29, to express his solidarity with “colleagues facing high casualties and enormous volatility.”

Upon his return from Mali, the Secretary-General will preside over the observance of the International Day of Peacekeepers at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Friday, June 1.

He will lay a wreath to honour those who lost their lives while in the service of peace and will also officiate at a ceremony to posthumously present the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal to the 129 military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives in peacekeeping operations during 2017.

Nigeria is the 41st largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping. It currently contributes more than 500 military and police personnel to the UN peace operations in Abyei, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan and the Western Sahara.

 

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US Opens Jerusalem Embassy Monday

The United States will officially be relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem later on Monday in a move sharply opposed by Palestinians and a large section of the international community.

The interim embassy will operate inside the existing US consulate building in Jerusalem, while a search begins for a larger site.

Neither President Donald Trump nor secretary of state Mike Pompeo will be attending the ceremony.

But in a move interpreted by some commentators as designed to defuse tensions, Mr. Trump has sent Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner (his favourite child and his son-in-law) to perform the opening ceremony in Jerusalem.

Both Ivanka and her husband, Mr. Kushner, are seen as highly influential members of the Trump White House.

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Trump Withdraws U.S. From Iran Nuclear Deal

President Donald Trump has declared that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump said it’s clear the country cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement, adding that the Iran deal is defective at its core.

He says the US will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction and that any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons would also be strongly sanctioned

European leaders had warned that a U.S. withdrawal would undo years of work that led to and sustained a landmark deal that has kept nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands.

Recall that Iran has complied with the nuclear agreement since it was reached in July 2015, ending 12 years of deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear program.

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Former Speaker Gets 15 Years In Jail For Corruption

Indonesia’s former parliament speaker was handed a 15-year prison term on Tuesday in one of the country’s harshest sentences for graft, marking a victory for its clamp-down on widespread corruption.

Setya Novanto, once among the country’s most influential politicians, had been accused of taking millions in kickbacks and bribes linked to the national roll-out of government ID cards.

“We have found defendant Setya Novanto, beyond reasonable doubt, guilty of violating anti-corruption law,” presiding Judge Yanto told the packed Jakarta courtroom.

Novanto, who showed little reaction to the sentence, said he would “need time” to consider an appeal.

His months-long trial came after a string of manoeuvres — including allegedly faking an injury in a car crash — that critics say the 62-year-old used to dodge serious charges.

Prosecutors had demanded a 16-year sentence.

Judge Yanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, also fined Novanto 500 million rupiah ($36,000), far less than the $7.4 million prosecutors had wanted him to pay as restitution to the state.

Novanto, who had managed to sidestep corruption allegations in the past, was accused of playing a key role in embezzlement from the $440 million ID card project, with some $170 million disappearing from state coffers.

Several other politicians, government officials and businessmen have been charged in the scandal.

The scope of the claims shocked many Indonesians even by standards of one of the world’s most corrupt countries, where payoffs and bribes are rife at all levels of society and endemic in many state agencies, including the police force.

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UN Elects Nigeria’s Emuze Into Rights Panel

Nigeria’s candidate, Amb. Peters Emuze has been elected to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in a keenly-contested election held at the UN Headquarters, New York.

Emuze was elected for a four-year tenure.

Emuze, who entered the race at the last minute, beat candidates of six other countries’ to clinch the first of the two seats for Africa.

He would be representing the African continent on the panel from 2019 to 2022.

His victory, in clinching one of the two Africa’s seats on the board of the committee for at least four years, is seen as a ‘feather’ for Nigeria.

CESCR is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors countries’ compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of citizens by its States parties.

The committee was established under ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17 of May 28, 1985, to carry out the monitoring functions assigned to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

 

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Former U.S. First Lady Bush Dies Of Heart Failure

A former First Lady of the United States of America, Barbara Bush, has died on Tuesday evening at the age of 92.

Spokesman for the family, Jim McGrath, made this known in a press statement made available to newsmen.

“She is survived by her husband of 73 years, President George H.W. Bush; five children and their spouses; 17 grandchildren; seven great grand children; and her brother, Scott Pierce.

“She was preceded in death by her second child, Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush, and her siblings Martha Rafferty and James R. Pierce.

“The official funeral schedule will be announced as soon as is practical,” the statement said.

Barbara served as the country’s first lady from 1989 to 1993.

 

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Hunger, Root Cause Of Instability Across Globe, Says WFP

The World Food Program, WFP says hunger is not just a byproduct of war, but the main cause of instability in many countries.

The WFP United States Director Of Public Policy and Research, Dr. Chase Sova, highlighted this in a comprehensive review of a new report from World Food Program USA that confirmed food insecurity as being linked to at least nine separate types of instability, ranging from protest to interstate conflict, with terrorism and civil war .

He said that more people were currently displaced from their homes because of violence, conflict and persecution than any other time since the World War II.

According to him, one of the consequences was an increase in the number of hungry people on the planet for the first time in over a decade.

“When we think of food-related instability, food riots very often come to mind. Food riots have played a role in the French Revolution and have been captured in headlines worldwide for generations – pasta riots in Italy, tortilla riots in Mexico, bread riots in the Middle East. Americans spend only 10 percent of their income on food, while citizens in the world’s poorest countries spend closer to 60 percent. Global food price spikes can have major effects on political stability in these settings” Dr.Sova said.

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