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Afghanistan: Abusive Strongmen Escape Justice

Afghanistan’s new government should prosecute officials and commanders whose serious human rights abuses have long gone unpunished, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. US officials should press President Ashraf Ghani to take up justice for past abuses as a top priority during Ghani’s expected March 2015 visit to Washington, DC.

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Over 5 billion people worldwide lacking access to essential medicines, says UN Report

Three quarters of the world population has no access to proper pain relief treatment, according to a report by the United Nations body charged with overseeing Governments’ compliance with international drug control treaties, which was released in London today.

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'It's time to get serious about wildlife crime' UN proclaims on World Wildlife Day

Illegal wildlife trade undermines rule of law, degrades ecosystems and severely hampers the efforts of rural communities striving to sustainably manage their natural resources, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today as the United Nations marked World Wildlife Day. “Combatting this crime is not only essential for conservation efforts and sustainable development; it will contribute to achieving peace and security in troubled regions where conflicts are fuelled by these illegal activities,” said Mr. Ban in a message on the Day.

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Canadian Government Sets Reckless 2015 Commercial Seal Hunt Quota

The 2015 seal hunt quota of 468,000 harp, hooded and grey seals was set today by Fisheries Minister Gail Shea. Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada, condemns the quota as irresponsible and issued the following statement:

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Incident in which Israeli soldiers set dogs on Palestinian youth was part of official policy

Today, the Israeli media published a short video of two soldiers from the IDF dog unit, filmed by another soldier after they had set dogs on a Palestinian boy. The footage was first posted on former MK Michael Ben Ari’s Facebook page, but has since been removed from there. The military’s official response read: “Upon receipt of the footage, the Commander of the Airborne and Special Training Center ordered an immediate internal inquiry into the incident. Upon completion of this inquiry, conclusions will be drawn and the necessary steps will be taken to prevent such incidents from recurring.”

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Death toll in eastern Ukraine crosses 6,000, Zeid says, as UN releases new report

The estimated number of people killed in eastern Ukraine since April 2014 has now passed the 6,000* mark, in spite of successive ceasefires, the UN Human Rights Office announced Monday, saying the escalation in fighting in recent weeks, particularly near Donetsk airport and in the Debaltseve area, resulted in hundreds of deaths, both civilian and military, and an untenable situation for those trapped or held hostage in the areas controlled by armed groups.

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Olympics: New Alliance Calls for Rights-Respecting Bids

All Olympic host countries should ensure protection of human rights, including labor and free media protections, and implement anti-corruption measures in the lead-up to and during Olympic Games, the new Sport and Rights Alliance (SRA) said today ahead of a key meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week.

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Felling of tropical trees has soared, satellite shows, not slowed as UN study found

The rate at which tropical forests were cut, burned or otherwise lost from the 1990s through the 2000s accelerated by 62 percent, according to a new study which dramatically reverses a previous estimate of a 25 percent slowdown over the same period. That previous estimate, from the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Forest Resource Assessment, was based on a collection of reports from dozens of countries. The new estimate, in contrast, is based on vast amounts of Landsat image data which directly record the changes to forests over 20 years.

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“Proper victim identification crucial in fighting modern slavery in Belgium”– UN rights expert

United Nations Special Rapporteur Urmila Bhoola today called on the Government of Belgium to strengthen its fight against all forms of contemporary slavery by focusing sharply on proper victim detection and identification.

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UNEP Head Joins State Visit by French President to Philippines to Spotlight Need for Urgent Action on Climate Change

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner is joining a French delegation to the Philippines, led by President François Hollande, to highlight the fight against climate change and convene a forum intended to encourage faster and more determined action on the global challenge of climate change, ahead of the UNFCCC Climate Change talks in Paris later this year.

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Cholera outbreak challenges relief efforts in Malawi’s flood-affected communities

A cholera outbreak is further jeopardizing the health of 230,000 people recently displaced by floods in Malawi. The majority of those affected are living in temporary camps where access to safe water and improved sanitation, both essential for the prevention of an epidemic, is an immediate challenge. The Red Cross, through its solid network of volunteers, is on the ground, constructing new latrines and repairing damaged boreholes, however, without an influx of resources, there is concern that the caseload will increase, increasing the vulnerability of already fragile families.

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Virunga: UK lawmaker calls for investigation into London-listed oil company over bribery allegations

A leader of a cross-party anti-corruption group of British MPs yesterday called for UK and US authorities to investigate claims that Soco International, a London-listed oil company, may have breached anti-corruption legislation in the course of its work in Africa’s oldest national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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US force feeds GM crops to African nations, says new report

US agencies, funders such as the Gates Foundation, and agribusiness giant Monsanto are trying to force unwilling African nations to accept expensive and insufficiently tested Genetically Modified (GM) foods and crops, according to a new report released today.

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End of the Pachauri era: The evolution of consensus on climate science

Rajenda Pachauri, who resigned Tuesday from chairmanship of the IPCC amid charges of sexual harassment, presided over the international effort to forge consensus on climate change during eight years in which the science grew stronger, but so did the attacks.

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Leaked cables show Netanyahu's Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad
Full story: The Guardian UK


Agribusiness companies destroying vital rainforest habitat of Chimpanzees and other great apes

Endangered great ape species are having their rainforest habitat destroyed and threatened by the expansion of agribusiness projects in central Africa according to new evidence from Greenpeace Africa.

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Iraq: UN report documents human rights violations of increasingly sectarian nature

A UN report released Monday documents widespread human rights violations of an increasingly sectarian nature in Iraq, as well as a deterioration of the rule of law in large parts of the country.

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World must achieve international water goals to preempt looming conflicts born of desperation: UN

A new UN report warns that without large new water-related investments many societies worldwide will soon confront rising desperation and conflicts over life's most essential resource.

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Family of Alan Turing seeking pardons for 49,000 men prosecuted for homosexuality
Full story: Raw Story


Without more emission control efforts, Europe will continue to see air pollution levels above the limits of the EU and WHO

Current air quality legislation in Europe will lead to significant improvements in particulate matter pollution, but without further emission control efforts, many areas of Europe will continue to see air pollution levels above the limits of the EU and the World Health Organization. Strict control of vehicle emissions alone will not be sufficient to achieve the limit values.

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Kansas State University study finds climate change may dramatically reduce global wheat production

A recent study involving Kansas State University researchers finds that in the coming decades at least one-quarter of the world's wheat production will be lost to extreme weather from climate change if no adaptive measures are taken.

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Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan Rise by 22 Percent in 2014

Increased ground engagements between parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan are behind a 22 per cent rise in conflict-related deaths and injuries of Afghan civilians in 2014, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said today on the release of its 2014 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, prepared in coordination with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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Thousands more cracks found in Belgian nuclear reactors, Belgian regulatory head warns of global implications

Following the discovery of thousands of additional cracks in critical components of two Belgian nuclear reactors, Greenpeace today called for immediate checks of nuclear power plants worldwide.

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Iraq: Militias Escalate Abuses, Possibly War Crimes

Abuses by militias allied with Iraqi security forces in Sunni areas have escalated in recent months. Residents have been forced from their homes, kidnapped, and in some cases summarily executed. At least 3,000 people have fled their homes in the Muqdadiyya area of Diyala province since June 2014 and, since October, been prevented from returning. In addition to the events documented here, Human Rights Watch is conducting an investigation into more recent allegations that militia and SWAT forces killed 72 civilians in the town of Barwana, also in Muqdadiyya.

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Oil Train Derailment in Ontario is Latest in String of Fiery, Disastrous Incidents

A train carrying 100 tank cars of crude oil has derailed and exploded in Canada, the latest in a string of fiery accidents involving oil trains in Canada and the United States, which have increased dramatically in recent years. The latest incident happened late Saturday night in a remote area of northern Ontario. Twenty-nine of 100 cars derailed and at least seven were on fire; there have been no reports yet of whether oil has been spilled.

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UN human rights expert calls for immediate halt to further executions in Indonesia

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, today urged the Indonesian Government to halt further executions of people convicted of drug-related offenses. Earlier this week, Indonesian officials announced that eight convicted drug traffickers would be executed by firing squad in the coming days.

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European Parliament to resume investigations into CIA-led operations in EU countries

Parliament's civil liberties, foreign affairs and human rights committees will resume investigations into the CIA's alleged transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in EU countries, in the light of the US Senate's new revelations of the use of torture by the CIA, says a resolution passed on Wednesday. MEPs also again call on EU member states to investigate these allegations and prosecute those involved.

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Governments must not delegate responsibility of basic education to private sector, UN expert says

“Free, quality basic education is a fundamental human right for all, and governments must not delegate this responsibility to the private sector,” today said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh.

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Sudan: Mass Rape by Army in Darfur

Sudanese army forces raped more than 200 women and girls in an organized attack on the north Darfur town of Tabit in October 2014, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) should take urgent steps to protect civilians in the town from further abuses.

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EU 'burying heads in the sand' as hundreds more migrants die at sea off Italy

The European Union and its member states must hang their heads in shame following reports this morning that as many as 300 migrants are believed to have died in the high seas off the Italian island of Lampedusa, said Amnesty International.

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