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Philippines Stays in Rights Council, Despite Deadly Drug Crackdown

The Philippines has been elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council, boosting President Rodrigo Duterte’s reputation after two years of criticism of hitman-style killings in his country’s crackdown on illegal drugs.

Rights groups opposed the country’s bid, saying it has no business joining the council, which calls out rights abuses.

Duterte, elected in 2016, has openly challenged U.N. special rapporteurs worried about conditions in the Philippines. Earlier this year, his government withdrew from the statute behind the International Criminal Court as the court was checking accusations that Duterte and other officials had committed crimes against humanity in the anti-drug campaign.

But Duterte has allowed the Philippine government’s own Commission on Human Rights to check reports of up to 12,000 extrajudicial killings, including minors, at the hands of police trying to throttle the drug trade. Duterte has also approved “reforms” for the rights of common Filipinos, his foreign secretary says.

“It’s rather strange it’s applying for another U.N. body which also discusses human rights,” said Maria Ela Atienza, political science professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman. “It also shows that in a sense there are different voices in the Philippine government.”

Election Oct. 12

The Philippines renewed its seat along with Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and India. With the number of candidates equal to the number of openings, the countries do not compete, but U.N. members have the right to vote against any applicant for the three-year term.

Manila joins eight other existing members, including China and Japan. The council investigates allegations of human rights breaches in U.N. member countries, following issues such as freedom of expression, women’s rights and the rights of ethnic minorities.

Advocacy groups have criticized the council previously for letting in countries with what they describe as poor human rights records. Last year, for example, the advocacy group UN Watch urged the United Nations to look harder at the candidacies of Afghanistan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Qatar and three African countries.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended his government’s human rights record during a U.N. General Assembly session last month in New York. Government “reforms,” he said, have “helped protect the rights” of all in the Philippines.

“As a sovereign and democratic country led by a duly elected president, we are on track in salvaging our deteriorating country from becoming a narco-state or a state held hostage by the rich and powerful who ignore the plight of the poor, powerless and marginalized,” Cayetano said.

The U.N. body in particular should “openly, frankly and thoroughly” discuss the rights of migrants, he added.

​Human rights record

Duterte has enjoyed high approval ratings over perceptions that his anti-drug work and crackdowns on other crimes have made cities safer. But some of the suspected extrajudicial killings, including teenagers shot by police last year during drug raids, have angered some citizens.

Police or special agents killed at least 54 people age 18 or younger in Duterte’s first year, media outlet Rappler.com said.

Filipinos also want police to stop high-level drug dealers, Atienza said. The U.N. bid this week may be “a publicity thing” for the president, she said.

The president has acknowledged the killings publicly and vowed to stop police from using that approach to solving drug crimes. His Commission on Human Rights called Oct. 4 for “expedient action and rectification from the state” after Duterte described the extrajudicial killing as his “only sin.”

But Duterte in June told a U.N. judicial independence rapporteur to “go to hell,” and earlier in the year called its special rapporteur on indigenous peoples “a terrorist.”

Application to renew membership on the U.N. council is “ironic” because Duterte has resisted the United Nations and International Criminal Court to avoid accountability, said Renato Reyes, secretary general of the Manila-based Bagong Alyansang Makabaya alliance of left-wing social causes.

People in the alliance have felt “vilified” for their work, Reyes added. Alliance members sometimes organize protests calling attention to issues such as poverty and resource distribution.

“Human rights defenders are under attack in the Philippines,” Reyes said. Whether it’s the Commission on Human Rights or other groups, “advocates like us are being vilified, and treated as enemies of the state or destabilizers, so It would be untenable if the Philippine government pursues its application,” Reyes said.

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UNHCR: Australia Must Evacuate 1,400 Refugees for Medical Care

The U.N. refugee agency says the health of more than 1,400 refugees and asylum seekers held at offshore processing facilities in Papua New Guinea and Nauru has seriously deteriorated. It says they must be moved immediately to Australia, where they can get medical care.

Australia set up offshore processing centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru in 2013 to deter refugees arriving by sea from landing on its shores. Over the past five years, 12 people have died, half of them confirmed or suspected suicides.

UNHCR spokeswoman Catherine Stubberfield says under international law, Australia is responsible for those who have sought its protection. She says the government must immediately transfer the refugees and asylum seekers in the offshore centers to Australia to prevent further tragedies and loss of life.

She tells VOA an extremely large number of people are suffering acute physical and mental health problems and are not receiving adequate support and care. She says cases of self-harm and attempted suicide have escalated significantly in the past few months.

“Our own consultant medical experts in 2016 found accumulative prevalence of anxiety, depression and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in both Papua New Guinea and Nauru to be well above 80 percent and the situation has deteriorated since then.  So, there are very serious needs that are not being met.  There is no longer time for the government of Australia to delay or find other solutions.”  

Stubberfield says the level of human suffering experienced by refugees and asylum seekers living in these conditions is unparalleled.  

The Australian government says that Papua New Guinea and Nauru are solely responsible for matters concerning the refugees. The UNHCR disagrees, noting it was Australia that designed, financed and managed the systems on the islands. Recently, Nauru’s government ordered medical charity Doctors Without Borders to stop its mental health services on the island and leave.

The United States has accepted 1,250 refugees for resettlement but, the process is going very slowly. In the meantime, Stubberfield says the health of the refugees is worsening. She says Australia must care for them as a matter of urgency.

 

 

 

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Sprint Legend Usain Bolt Hits First Goals in Football Bid

Sprint legend Usain Bolt made his case for becoming a professional footballer Friday when he scored his first goals after starting up front in a pre-season game for Australia’s Central Coast Mariners.

The 100 meters world record-holder has been bidding for a professional contract since he retired last year, recovered from a painful kick in the groin to grab a double against Macarthur South West United in Sydney.

Bolt, 32, finished with his left foot after some slack marking on 55 minutes, celebrating with his trademark ‘Lightning Bolt’ pose in front of more than 5,000 fans — a rare turnout for a pre-season game.

The Jamaican, wearing number 95 on his shirt in a nod to his 100m world record time of 9.58secs, then capitalized on a defensive mix-up to score his second on 69 minutes before being substituted six minutes later with the score at 4-0.

It was the first game Bolt has started since joining the A-League club in August for an indefinite trial.

“I’m just happy that I got a chance and I’m proud of myself,” Bolt told host broadcaster Fox Sports after the game.

“It was a big deal… first start and scoring two goals. It was a good feeling. This is what I worked towards. I try to get better and I am on the way to doing that.”

Bolt said he had a “lot more to learn” and was keen to join the Mariners on a professional contract.

“I’m keen, that’s why I’m here to play my best and to try and get into the team,” he added.

The superstar, a massive Manchester United fan, was handed a chance to train with the A-League side for an indefinite period in order to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a professional footballer.

Whether he signs for the Mariners appears still up in the air, but the brace bolstered his case after a difficult first-half where he missed chances and appeared to struggle with the pace and movement of the game.

“They’ve seen me in training, they’ve seen what I’m capable of and so, they need to analyze and say, ‘Is he good enough for this club?’ and they will tell me that,” Bolt told reporters after the game.

“I just did what I had to do and that’s as far as I can go.”

Recently installed coach Mike Mulvey said he was focused on the first game of the season for the Mariners, who finished bottom of the table last season, but heaped praised on the eight-time Olympic champion for his goals.

“You’ve got to be so happy for the guy, haven’t you?” Mulvey told reporters.

Bolt appeared to appeal for game time, saying he would improve as he gained more understanding of his teammates and what they wanted.

He has previously tried out with clubs in Germany, South Africa and Norway to no avail.

The Mariners have been giving him one-on-one sessions on top of the squad’s training in a bid to turn him into A-League material for when the season starts a week from now.

The Mariners will face Brisbane Roar, the club Mulvey was sacked from in 2014, in their first game next Sunday.

 

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China Says in ‘Communication’ Amid Report of Trump-Xi Meet

China said Friday it is in contact with the United States amid reports of a planned meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump next month following a dive in the U.S. stock market blamed partly on a growing trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang offered no specifics, but said that “I have also seen the relevant reports.”

“China and the U.S. maintain communication on dialogues and exchanges at all levels,” Lu told reporters at a daily briefing.

The reported meeting would take place during the G-20 summit in Argentina in late November.

The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post both cited officials saying Trump has decided to proceed with the meeting with Xi. Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, told CNBC Thursday that, “There’s some movement toward” a meeting at the G-20.

“They have lots to talk about. So we’ll see,” Kudlow said.

Global indexes gained Friday after their recent sharp declines, on word of the possible presidential meeting, along with strong Chinese export data.  

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.5 percent to 22,694.66 after sinking early in the day and following a nearly 4 percent loss on Thursday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng surged 2.1 percent to 25,801.49. The Shanghai Composite index advanced 0.9 percent to 2,606.91. Shares recovered in Taiwan and rose throughout Southeast Asia.

Wall Street was set for an optimistic open after two days of steep losses. S&P 500 futures gained 0.8 percent to 2,766.80. Dow futures rose 0.8 percent to 25,378.00.

That followed a swoon that wiped more than 1,300 points from the Dow over two days and dragged the S&P 500 down more than 5 percent.

Reports that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has advised against labeling China as a currency manipulator — a status that could trigger penalties — were also seen as easing tensions.

Yet the prospects remain highly uncertain as to whether the U.S. is preparing to consider lifting penalty tariffs on about $250 billion of Chinese products, triggering retaliation by China.

The trade feud has been fueled by U.S. accusations that China coerces foreign companies into handing over technology in return for access to the Chinese market, as well as by China’s trade surplus with the U.S.

That surplus widened to a record $34.1 billion in September as exports to the American market rose 13 percent from a year earlier to $46.7 billion, down slightly from August’s 13.4 percent growth. Imports of American goods increased 9 percent to $12.6 billion, down from August’s 11.1 percent growth.

Chinese exports to the United States have at least temporarily defied forecasts they would weaken after being hit by punitive U.S. tariffs of up to 25 percent.

September marked the second straight record Chinese monthly trade surplus with the United States after August’s $31 billion.

Export numbers have been buoyed by producers rushing to fill orders before American tariffs rose, but they also benefit from “robust U.S. demand” and a weaker Chinese currency, which makes their goods cheaper abroad, Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics said in a report.

The Chinese yuan has lost nearly 10 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar this year. That prompted suggestions Beijing might weaken the exchange rate to help exporters, but that might hurt China’s economy by encouraging an outflow of capital. The central bank has tightened controls on currency trading to head off further declines.

China-U.S. relations have also been roiled by Beijing’s heated objections to U.S. support for Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy it claims as its own territory, as well as China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, where the U.S. says a Chinese destroyer came aggressively close to a U.S. Navy ship late last month, forcing it to maneuver to prevent a collision.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also accused Beijing last week of seeking to interfere in the U.S. midterm elections to be held next month.

Trump has made similar accusations, although security experts say they didn’t know of any Chinese influence operations comparable to Russian activities during the 2016 presidential election.

 

 

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НАБУ заявляє про затримання підозрюваного в «справі Мартиненка»

Національне антикорупційне бюро України повідомило 12 жовтня, що 11 жовтня в Києві його детективи під процесуальним керівництвом Спеціалізованої антикорупційної прокуратури затримали «особу, ймовірно причетну до заволодіння коштами ДП «НАЕК «Енергоатом» у сумі 6,4 мільйона євро».

«Затриманий із листопада 2017 року перебував у розшуку», – йдеться в повідомленні.

«Дії підозрюваного кваліфікуються за ч.5 ст.27, ч.5 ст.191 Кримінального кодексу України («Пособництво у заволодінні організованою групою чужим майном шляхом зловживання службовою особою своїм службовим становищем, вчиненого в особливо великому розмірі»)», – інформують у НАБУ.

«За даними слідства, підозрюваний особисто за вказівкою колишнього народного депутата України, екс-голови Комітету Верховної Ради України з питань паливно-енергетичного комплексу, виступав представником компанії «BRADCREST INVESTMENTS S.A.» (Панамська Республіка). У банківських установах Швейцарії він відкривав розрахункові рахунки цієї компанії для того, щоб на них надходили кошти («відкати») від чеської компанії «SKODA JS a.s.». У подальшому таким чином на рахунки панамської компанії надійшло 6,4 мільйона євро. За даними детективів, підозрюваний особисто домовлявся з представниками чеської компанії «SKODA JS a.s.» щодо розмірів перерахувань «відкатів», – повідомляє антикорупційне бюро.

«22 травня 2018 року обвинувальний акт стосовно шести осіб, задіяних у «справі Мартиненка» скеровано до суду. Стосовно однієї особи триває досудове розслідування, троє перебувають у розшуку», – додає прес-служба НАБУ.

Микола Мартиненко називає справу проти себе політичною і заявив, що його «кінцева мета» – довести безпідставність усіх звинувачень проти себе. За словами екс-депутата, він має намір співпрацювати зі слідством.

22 квітня 2017 року суд відпустив Миколу Мартиненка на поруки 18 депутатів Верховної Ради, міністра молоді та спорту Ігоря Жданова й заступника голови Центральної виборчої комісії Андрія Магери.

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ПАРЄ: Росія має повернути Польщі уламки президентського літака

Резолюція закликає Польщу і Росію співпрацювати в розслідуванні катастрофи і притягненні винних до відповідальності

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У МЗС побачили схожість із агресією в намірах Росії «захищати православних»

«Подібні тези щодо «захисту російськомовного населення» ми чули від РФ як виправдовування своєї агресії проти України»

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Насильство в поліції: прокуратура оголосила про підозру ще двом силовикам у Харкові

Слідчі прокуратури Харківської області оголосили підозри у перевищенні службових повноважень, що супроводжувалося насильством (ч. 2 ст. 365 Кримінального кодексу України), ще двом працівникам сектору патрульної поліції, які несли службу у метрополітені на станції «Південний вокзал».

Як повідомили Радіо Свобода в прес-службі прокуратури Харківської області, йдеться про події 21 серпня, коли поліцейські силоміць затягли до службової кімнати чоловіка, який, похитуючись, виходив з метро, кинули його на підлогу і відлупцювали, завдаючи удари по тулубу і голові руками, кийком і стільцем. 

Обидва підозрювані – старші сержанти (30 і 35 років). Прокуратура направила до суду клопотання про обрання їм запобіжного заходу у вигляді тримання під вартою. Таким чином, кількість підозрюваних у справі про службові злочини поліцейських у харківському метрополітені зросла до шести. 

Наприкінці вересня в рамках спільної спецоперації прокуратури області і управління внутрішньої безпеки ДВБ Нацполіції України, були затримані четверо працівників сектору патрульної поліції метрополітену. Їм інкримінується одержання неправомірної вигоди та перевищення службових повноважень (ч. 2 ст. 365 і ч. 3 ст. 368 КК України). Одному з них суд обрав запобіжний захід у вигляді домашнього арешту, а решту взяв під варту. Наразі на всі чотири запобіжні заходи подані апеляційні скарги. Прокуратура вимагає змінити домашній арешт на тримання під вартою, а адвокати підозрюваних – пом’якшення запобіжних заходів.