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Malaysia vastly undercounting poverty, says UN rights expert


UN KUALA LUMPUR (23 August 2019) - Malaysia lays claim to the world’s lowest national poverty rate by using an unduly low poverty line that does not reflect the cost of living and by excluding vulnerable populations from its official figures, said UN human rights expert Philip Alston at the end of a mission to the country.

“While Malaysia has achieved undeniably impressive growth in reducing poverty in the last 50 years, the official claim that poverty has been eradicated, or exists merely in small pockets in rural areas, is incorrect and has crippled policymaking,” Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said as his 11-day visit ended.

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UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar Calls for Justice for Victims of Sexual and Gender-based Violence


UN NEW YORK (22 August 2019) - The U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said the country’s military must stop using sexual and gender-based violence to terrorise and punish ethnic minorities. The Mission said the brutal tactic was still being employed in Kachin and Shan states, and was so severe in Rakhine State, during the "clearance operations" of 2017, that it was a factor indicating the Myanmar military’s genocidal intent to destroy the Rohingya population.

The Mission made its conclusions in a new report, released Thursday in New York, that soldiers routinely and systematically employed rape, gang rape and other violent and forced sexual acts against women, girls, boys, men and transgender people in blatant violation of international human rights law.

"Extreme physical violence, the openness in which it is conducted … reflects a widespread culture of tolerance towards humiliation and the deliberate infliction of severe physical and mental pain or suffering on civilians," the report said.

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Myanmar: UN Fact-Finding Mission exposes military business ties, calls for targeted sanctions and arms embargoes


UN GENEVA (5 August 2019) - The U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar urged the international community on Monday to sever ties with Myanmar’s military and the vast web of companies it controls and relies on. The Mission said the revenues the military earns from domestic and foreign business deals substantially enhances its ability to carry out gross violations of human rights with impunity.

The report, for the first time, establishes in detail the degree to which Myanmar’s military has used its own businesses, foreign companies and arms deals to support brutal operations against ethnic groups that constitute serious crimes under international law, bypassing civilian oversight and evading accountability.

The Mission said the U.N. Security Council and Member States should immediately impose targeted sanctions against companies run by the military, known as the Tatmadaw. It encouraged consumers, investors and firms at home and abroad to engage with businesses unaffiliated with the military instead. The Mission also called for the imposition of an arms embargo.

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Myanmar: Human rights violations affecting region and ASEAN must apply pressure, says UN expert


UN GENEVA/SEOUL (30 July 2019) - Evidence of serious, systematic infringements of the right to privacy in South Korea has been found by UN Special Rapporteur Joseph Cannataci, together with significant progress on the issue.

"The evidence I have found relates to infringements by the National Police Agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the Defence Security Command up to late 2016 and possibly early 2017," said UN privacy expert Cannataci, presenting a statement at the end of a visit to the country.

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Myanmar: Human rights violations affecting region and ASEAN must apply pressure, says UN expert


UN KUALA LUMPUR (18 July 2019) - Human rights violations in Myanmar are creating increasingly serious issues for South and South East Asia, a UN expert said today, urging stronger action by regional countries to address potential peace and security concerns.

"Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee cited the nearly 1.5 million refugees from Myanmar in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, trafficking and smuggling of people from Myanmar and the drug trade within and outside the region as examples of deepening concerns."

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Sri Lanka: UN expert to assess rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association


UN GENEVA (16 July 2019) - UN Special Rapporteur Clément Nyaletsossi Voule will visit Sri Lanka from 18 to 26 July 2019 to assess rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the country.

"We have seen a commendable effort to expand civic space in Sri Lanka, the establishment of strong and independent institutions, and noticeable strides towards truth and reconciliation in the country," Voule said. "I hope that my visit will aid in the further strengthening of public freedom, at a conjuncture where the country has had to face important challenges, including the recent and tragic Easter terrorist attacks."

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Myanmar: Statement by UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore


UN GENEVA (10 July 2019) - "The Government of Myanmar can and must take urgent steps to reverse this situation and to end the statelessness of the Rohingya. They must establish a credible process for recognition of their citizenship status and the conditions conducive for the return of all refugees and IDPs to their places of origin in compliance with international law," Gilmore said.

"Furthermore, the Government must act to bring the continuing violations of human rights to an end, and ensure that the grave crimes that have been committed against the Rohingya, and now the ethnic Rakhine community, are properly, transparently, impartially and fully investigated and that those who are responsible for such crimes are held accountable according to the rule of law."

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Kashmir: No steps taken by India or Pakistan to improve human rights situation


UN GENEVA (8 July 2019) - A UN human rights report on the situation in India-Administered Kashmir and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir from May 2018 to April 2019, says the number of civilian casualties reported over the 12-month period may be the highest in over a decade, and noted that neither India nor Pakistan have taken any concrete steps to address the numerous concerns raised in an earlier UN report.

“The new report, published on Monday by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, describes how tensions over Kashmir – which rose sharply after a deadly suicide bombing in February targeting Indian security forces in Pulwama -- continue to have a severe impact on the human rights of civilians, including the right to life.”

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Myanmar: UN expert 'fears for civilians' after Internet shutdown


UN GENEVA (24 June 2019) - The Myanmar Government’s shutdown of mobile data networks in nine townships could have serious implications for human rights and humanitarian monitoring in the conflict areas of Rakhine and Chin States, a UN expert warned on Monday.

“As there is no media access and serious restrictions on humanitarian organisations in the conflict-affected area, the entire region is in a blackout,” said Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. “I fear for all civilians there, cut off and without the necessary means to communicate with people inside and outside the area.”

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Opening statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet


UN The eyes of the world are on the Council as this June session opens. Over 100 reports are due to be examined. Panel discussions will delve deeply into many human rights situations and themes. They include topics crucial to women’s enjoyment of human rights in the context of work, old age and climate change; targeted surveillance and the private surveillance industry; mental health; and other essential areas of political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. There will also be interactive dialogues regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Sudan and Venezuela, among many other issues. I will review aspects of my mission last week to Venezuela during our dialogue on 5 July.

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North Korea: Dark clouds on the horizon of peace without rights approach


UN GENEVA/SEOUL (21 June 2019) – “North Korea is at a historical crossroads. If the right and just decisions are made, a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula will appear on the horizon,” said UN human rights expert Tomas Ojea Quintana.

The Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, urged the Government to eliminate corporate tax loopholes, reassess its dependence on dubious infrastructure projects and land concessions, and invest in education, health and social support.

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UN Human Rights Office: Leave Behind Prejudice and Fear to Change Narrative on Migration


UN BANGKOK (19 June 2019) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia is calling for a human rights-based approach to refugee movements in Asia that emphasizes shared values over differences which fuel fear and prejudice of migrants. Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June, the UN Human Rights Office Regional Representative, Cynthia Veliko, calls for strong protection of the rights of all refugees and other people on the move.

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UN expert calls for reform of poverty-driving policies in Lao PDR


UN GENEVA (19 June 2019) – The Lao People’s Democratic Republic should urgently adopt widespread reforms to alleviate poverty, protect the rights of people in poverty and ensure economic growth benefits the poorest, an independent UN expert said in a report released today.

The Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, urged the Government to eliminate corporate tax loopholes, reassess its dependence on dubious infrastructure projects and land concessions, and invest in education, health and social support.

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Maldives: Moment of political hope at risk from environmental and fundamentalist threats to culture, says UN expert


UN MALE (18 June 2019) - A UN human rights expert says the Republic of the Maldives should grab the chance offered by a moment of reform and optimism to strengthen Maldivian culture as a key response to the existential threat of climate change, and as a vital resource for combating fundamentalism and extremism.

Welcoming the country’s renewed engagement with the UN human rights system, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, said after a 10-day visit that the government’s ambitious reform programme could greatly benefit human rights.

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UN experts urge ILO to back safe and healthy work conditions as a 'fundamental' right


UN GENEVA (13 June 2019) – UN experts today urged the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to immediately recognise and adopt safe and healthy working conditions as one of its fundamental principles and rights at work.

"Millions of workers around the world suffer from diseases and disabilities due to unsafe and unhealthy conditions of work. It is estimated that approximately two million workers die prematurely each year because of an unsafe or unhealthy workplace," the experts* said as the ILO held its centenary conference in Geneva.

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Sexual orientation and gender identity: policymakers are taking decisions in the dark, says UN expert


UN GENEVA (12 June 2019) – Information about the lived realities of LGBT people around the world is, at best, incomplete and fragmented, but in most countries it is simply non-existent, said the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In a report due to be presented to the Human Rights Council on 24 June, Victor Madrigal-Borloz urged States to collect data in an effort to understand the root causes to and eliminate violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

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“UN experts stress links between digital space and human rights at RightsCon, Tunis


UN GENEVA (13 June 2019) – Human rights must be embedded in the design of our digital age, say UN experts* attending RightsCon 2019 in Tunis this week.

As the conference on human rights in the digital age got underway, David Kaye, Michel Forst and Clément Voule, UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of opinion and expression, the situation of human rights defenders, and freedom of peaceful assembly and association, said States must ensure that human rights are respected and protected in the digital arena.

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“UN human rights experts call for independent probe into Philippines violations


UN GENEVA (7 June 2019) – UN human rights experts* today called on the United Nations to establish an independent investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines, citing a sharp deterioration in the situation of human rights across the country, including sustained attacks on people and institutions defending human rights.

“Given the scale and seriousness of the reported human rights violations we call on the Human Rights Council to establish an independent investigation into the human rights violations in the Philippines,” said the independent experts, referring to the body made up of 47 UN Member States elected by the UN General Assembly.

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