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Malaysia: Press Conference by UN Human Rights Chief calls on Malaysians to spurn racial, religious hatred


UNKUALA LUMPUR (5 October 2019) - UN Human Rights Chief calls on Malaysia to celebrate the kaleidoscope of ethnicity, religion, language and other identities that make the nation so special by standing up for the rights of others, especially those whose beliefs, background or other status differ.

But, she said, "please be suspicious of, and spurn, any efforts to stoke racial or religious hatred, online and offline. It is easy to create divisions in society but so difficult to repair the social fabric once it has been damaged. Only when we seek to protect the human rights of all of us can we hope for lasting stability and prosperity.

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Enforced disappearances: UN experts urge States to stop looking the other way"


UNGENEVA (11 September 2019) - States around the world must act urgently to prevent enforced disappearances rather than looking the other way, said a group of UN human rights experts.

"It is our responsibility to alert the Human Rights Council and the international community as a whole, of what we are witnessing as a Working Group," said Bernard Duhaime, Chair of the Working Group, after presenting the group’s latest annual report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Duhaime said the global trend in deteriorating human rights was underlined by a number of worrisome developments in the area of enforced disappearances.

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THAILAND: UN Human Rights Office Recognizes Progress in Enforced Disappearance Case


UN BANGKOK (9 September 2019) - The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia recognizes the important progress by Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation in the enforced disappearance case and recently confirmed murder of Karen community rights activist Pholachi 'Billy' Rakchongcharoen.

"The location and identification of Billy’s remains is a significant step in the criminal investigation of this heinous crime and the right to truth for the family," said Cynthia Veliko, the Office’s Regional Representative.

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MEDIA STATEMENT: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Indonesia (Papua and West Papua)


UN GENEVA (4 September 2019) - "I have been disturbed by escalating violence in the past two weeks in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, and especially the deaths of some protestors and security forces personnel."

"There should be no place for such violence in a democratic and diverse Indonesia, and I encourage the authorities to engage in dialogue with the people of Papua and West Papua on their aspirations and concerns, as well as to restore internet services and refrain from any excessive use of force. Blanket internet shutdowns are likely to contravene freedom of expression and limiting communications may exacerbate tension."

Pholachi Rakchongcharoen was last seen alive 17 April 2014 in the custody of national park officials who detained him at the checkpoint of Kaeng Krachan National Park for allegedly possessing wild honey.

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OHCHR says Human Rights Must Be Front and Centre in Climate Action


UN BANGKOK/SUVA (4 September 2019) - Global efforts to confront the wide-ranging effects of climate change must take a human rights-based approach if they are to be effective in dealing with the crisis, the UN Human Rights Offices for the Pacific and for South-East Asia said at the occasion of Asia-Pacific Climate Week 2019.

Climate change undermines people’s access to clean air, drinking-water, food and shelter, and protecting the environment is a fundamental pre-requisite for the enjoyment of all human rights.

"All States, jointly and individually, have human rights obligations with respect to climate change mitigation and adaptation," said Cynthia Veliko, Representative of OHCHR’s South-East Asia Regional Office. "Mitigation efforts must be enhanced ... if we are to avoid a human rights catastrophe."

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Torture and forced child labour: UN experts find Nepal violated human rights


UN GENEVA (27 August 2019) - Nepal must remove all existing obstacles that hinder victims of torture and forced labour in filing complaints, the UN Human Rights Committee said in a decision published today in Geneva.

The Committee’s decision came in response to an individual complaint from Mr. Bholi Pharaka (pseudonym), a member of an indigenous group who was a domestic worker in Kathmandu from the age of 9. He was forced to work every day from 4 a.m. until 10 p.m., not allowed to go to school and never received payment for his work. He was also subjected to physical and psychological abuse. After two years, he escaped, but soon thereafter was falsely accused of theft by his former master, arrested and tortured during police interrogation.

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Sri Lanka: Simmering ethno-religious tensions must not be ignored, says UN rights expert


UN GENEVA/COLOMBO (26 August 2019) - Simmering ethno-religious tensions in Sri Lanka require urgent action by the authorities to strengthen respect for freedom of religion or belief in Sri Lanka, says UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Ahmed Shaheed.

"There is a serious deficit of trust among ethno-religious communities in Sri Lanka following the deadly Easter Sunday bomb blasts and subsequent mob violence this year, and these tensions must not be ignored," Shaheed said, presenting a report at the end of a 12-day mission to the country.

While the Government promptly brought the situation more or less under control after the bomb blasts, many religious communities remain very concerned about their security because of incitement to hatred and violence by some religious extremists.

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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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