Archive for January, 2013

31/01/2013

Israel Must Remove all Jewish Settlers from Occupied West Bank – UN Inquiry

Human Wrongs Watch

By Russia Today (RT*),  31 January, 2013 – A UN human rights inquiry has called on Israel to remove all Jewish settlers from the West Bank and cease expansion. The report said the settlements violate international law, and are an attempt to drive out Palestinians through intimidation.

**Betar Illit, one of the four biggest settlements in the West Bank | Photo: Yoninah | Wikimedia Commons

**Betar Illit, one of the four biggest settlements in the West Bank | Photo: Yoninah | Wikimedia Commons

­“Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions,” the report read, adding that Israel must immediately begin to withdraw all settlers from the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT).

The inquiry prompted a strong reaction from Israel who slammed the report as biased.

“The Human Rights Council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that,” said spokesman Yigal Palmor in a statement.

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31/01/2013

Closing Tax Loopholes Could help End Global Hunger

By Oxfam International*, January 2013 — Oxfam revealed* that just over a quarter of the taxes that could be raised each year from money currently hidden away in tax havens would be enough to lay the foundation for ending global hunger.

Tax-dodging effectively takes food from hungry mouths. | Oxfam International

Tax-dodging effectively takes food from hungry mouths. | Oxfam International

The international agency is calling on global leaders to start closing the loop-holes that enable legal tax dodging. It is estimated that there is $32 trillion in tax havens globally, which could raise $189 billion annually if it were taxable (1).

Just $50.2 billion a year is estimated to be the level of additional investment needed, combined with other policy measures, to end global hunger (2).

The call comes as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono co-chair a two-day High Level Panel meeting [31 January] in Liberia.

Just over $1 billion in illicit finance flowed from Liberia every year over the last decade. This is twice the average amount it received in aid and equivalent to two thirds of Liberia’s GDP in 2011 (3).

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31/01/2013

Algeria: The Real Roots of ‘al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’

‘AQIM exists not because of the Arab Spring but Algeria’s military coup two decades ago and serious state-building failures in Algeria and northern Mali’.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika pacified most of the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat but has not been able to control the breakaway AQIM. Photo by primeministergr. | Source: Think Africa Press

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika pacified most of the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat but has not been able to control the breakaway AQIM. Photo by primeministergr. | Source: Think Africa Press

By Omar Ashour,  Think Africa Press– Commenting on the recent Algerian hostage crisis on an international news channel, one terrorism ‘expert’ made a remarkable claim: “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was founded because of the so-called Arab Spring, after we abandoned our Libyan ally [Colonel Muammar Gaddafi].”

After enduring a few more inaccuracies, I felt compelled to put aside the students’ papers that I was grading.

Let’s start by stating the obvious: AQIM is not a product of the Arab Spring. AQIM exists because of the military coup that ended the ‘Algerian Spring’ two decades ago.

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31/01/2013

UN Decries Use of Live Ammunition against Palestinian Civilians

Human Wrongs Watch

The top United Nations humanitarian official* in the occupied Palestinian territories is “seriously concerned” about increased civilian casualties resulting from the use of live ammunition by Israeli forces.

Israeli soldiers search a Palestinian's car at the Hawera checkpoint outside the town of Nablus in the West Bank. Photo: Kobi Wolf/IRIN

Israeli soldiers search a Palestinian’s car at the Hawera checkpoint outside the town of Nablus in the West Bank. Photo: Kobi Wolf/IRIN

“Using live ammunition against civilians may constitute excessive use of force and any such occurrences should be investigated in a timely, thorough, independent and impartial manner,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley said on 30 January 2013 in a statement.

He urged “maximum restraint in order to avoid further civilian casualties.”

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30/01/2013

Up to 70% of Governments Fail to Protect against Corruption in Defence Sector

Human Wrongs Watch

By Transparency International, January 2013 – Seventy per cent of countries leave the door open to waste and security threats as they lack the tools to prevent corruption in the defence sector, according to the first ever index measuring how governments prevent and counter corruption in defence, released by Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme

World map of the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, which measures "the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians". High numbers (yellow) indicate less perception of corruption, whereas lower numbers (red) indicate higher perception of corruption

World map of the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, which measures “the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians”. High numbers (yellow) indicate less perception of corruption, whereas lower numbers (red) indicate higher perception of corruption

Those with poor controls include two-thirds of the largest arms importers and half of the biggest arms exporters in the world.

Germany and Australia are the only countries that have strong anti-corruption mechanisms according to the index, with measures in place such as robust parliamentary oversight of defence policy.

Nine countries  ̶  Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, DRC, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Syria, and Yemen  ̶  exhibit critical risk, lacking basic measures such as controls to enable accountability, making institutionalisation of anti-corruption mechanisms in the sector near impossible.

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30/01/2013

Israel Boycotts UN Rights Forum, First State in History to Ignore Human Rights Review

Human Wrongs Watch

By Russia Today (RT*), 30 January 2013 — Israel has boycotted the UN human rights forum over fears of scrutiny of its treatment of residents of the occupied territories. Israel is now the first state in history to win a deferment of the periodical review of its human rights record.

Israel was absent for the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Israel was absent for the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Tel Aviv has refused to send a delegation on Tuesday [29 January 2013] to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva for the Universal Periodic Review procedure where UN member states have their human rights record evaluated every four years.

Israel’s cooperation with the council stopped last March after the UN set up a committee to inspect the effects of the Israeli settlements on Palestinians.

Israel which earlier accused the United Nations of anti-Israel bias reiterated its stance, recalling that the council has passed more resolutions against Israel than all other countries combined.

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30/01/2013

Africa’s Rise a Myth? Bring on Authoritarian Capitalism Instead…

Human Wrongs Watch

‘The ‘Africa rising’ narrative may be questionable and misguided, but so too is the suggestion Africa should blindly follow the authoritarian developmental states of East Asia.’

Life in front of a cement factory in Cameroon. Photograph by Carsten ten Brink | Source: Think Africa Press

Life in front of a cement factory in Cameroon. Photograph by Carsten ten Brink | Source: Think Africa Press

By Adam Robert Green, Think Africa Press* — In his recent Foreign Policy article, Rick Rowden makes the case that Africa’s low levels of manufacturing and industrialisation suggest the continent is not the ‘growth miracle’ that some commentators believe.

His piece, a response to bullish outlooks from McKinsey, The Economist and Time magazine among others, dismisses talk of Africa’s rise as a “myth”.

Since African economies make up a very small share of global manufacturing, he argues, they cannot be spoken of in the same breath as the Asian economies.

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30/01/2013

Storm Over the Sahara: US, France Creating another Osama?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Eric Margolis*,  TRANSCEND – The bloody attack on an Algerian gas installation and France’s invasion of Mali are the result of troubles that have been brewing for years – we simply have not been paying attention.

**A statue of freedom in Bamako | Photo: Rgaudin | Wikimedia Commons

**A statue of freedom in Bamako | Photo: Rgaudin | Wikimedia Commons

Jihadist guerilla leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, headlined as a new Great Islamic Satan by French media, has been making trouble in the Sahara for a long time, kidnapping westerners, robbing caravans, smuggling cigarettes.

Belmokhtar was known as a “man of honor,” one of the western-financed jihadists who went to battle the Soviets and their communist allies in Afghanistan in the 1980’s and 90’s. 

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30/01/2013

Cash-strapped International Criminal Court Investigates ‘Brutality and Destruction’ in Mali

Human Wrongs Watch

London, 29 January 2013 (IRIN*) – Concerns are being raised that the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into alleged war crimes in Mali is placing a serious strain on an already over-stretched and cash-strapped institution.

Photo: Katarina Höije/IRIN | Children who in 2012 joined militia training camps to fight against rebel groups (file photo)

Photo: Katarina Höije/IRIN | Children who in 2012 joined militia training camps to fight against rebel groups (file photo)

Announcing her first formal investigation since taking office, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on 16 January promised justice to victims of “brutality and destruction” in three northern regions of Mali.

But with a shrinking team of investigators and a budget that has barely increased despite a doubling of the workload, some analysts are doubtful she can deliver.

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30/01/2013

Which Countries Have Nuclear Weapons and How Many?

Human Wrongs Watch

By ICAN* – Nine countries together possess more than 19,000 nuclear weapons. The United States and Russia maintain roughly 2,000 of their nuclear weapons on high-alert status – ready to be launched within minutes of a warning.

Source: ICAN

Source: ICAN

Most are many times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945.

A single nuclear warhead, if detonated on a large city, could kill millions of people, with the effects persisting for decades.

The failure of the nuclear powers to disarm has heightened the risk that other countries will acquire nuclear weapons.

The only guarantee against the spread and use of nuclear weapons is to eliminate them without delay.

Although the leaders of some nuclear-armed nations have expressed their vision for a nuclear-weapon-free world, they have failed to develop any detailed plans to eliminate their arsenals and are modernizing them.

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