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Indonesia On Brink Of Covid-19 Catastrophe – Red Cross

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Indonesia is on the brink of a Coronavirus (Covid-19) ‘catastrophe,’ partly due to the spread of the Delta variant of the virus, the Red Cross said yesterday, urging ramp-up of testing and vaccinations.
The country’s medical association warned this week that the health system on the main island of Java was near collapse, with many hospitals turning away patients.
“Every day we are seeing this Delta variant driving Indonesia closer to the edge of a Covid-19 catastrophe,’’ said Jan Gelfand, Head of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) in Indonesia.
“We need lightning-fast action globally so that countries like Indonesia have access to the vaccines needed to avert tens of thousands of deaths,’’ he said in a statement.
More than 20 per cent of Covid-19 tests in Indonesia are returning positive, indicating that the number of infected people is likely to be much more widespread, the IFRC said.
Indonesia recorded 20,467 new cases on Tuesday, taking the total to more than 2.2 million, according to the health ministry.
Another 463 fatalities over- night brought the virus-related death toll to 58,024.
Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, said on Monday that the country would soon vaccinate children after its drug regulator authorised emergency use of the vaccine made by China’s Sinovac Biotech for people aged 12 to 17.
Nearly 28.3 million people aged 18 and above in the world’s fourth most populous nation of 270 million people have received at least the first dose of a vaccine.
Indonesia has set a target of inoculating 181.5 million people by early 2022.

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UN Highlights Policing Reforms To Address Systemic Racism

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United Nations rights chief Michelle Bachelet says radical policing reforms are needed to address systemic racism affecting people of African descent around the world.
Bachelet said on Monday as her Office published a series of recommendations prompted by the killing of George Floyd.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States while being arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit 20 dollars bill.
During the arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, knelt on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes after he was handcuffed and lying face down.
Prior to being placed on the ground, Floyd had exhibited signs of anxiety, complaining about having claustrophobia and being unable to breathe.
After being restrained he became more distressed, complaining of breathing difficulties and the knee on his neck, and expressing fear of imminent death.
Among the new measures proposed in the High Commissioner’s report on racial justice and equality, authorities are urged to reassess whether officers should continue to be the first responders to individuals with mental health problems.
In these and other police actions, the report found that law enforcement officers were rarely held accountable for human rights violations and crimes against people of African descent.
This was owing in part to “deficient investigations, a lack of independent and robust oversight and a widespread “presumption of guilt” against people of African descent.
“The status quo is untenable,” Bachelet said “Systemic racism needs a systemic response.
“We need a transformative approach that tackles the interconnected areas that drive racism, and lead to repeated, wholly avoidable, tragedies like the death of George Floyd”.
In a call to all states “to stop denying, and start dismantling racism”, the UN rights chief appealed to them “to end impunity and build trust; to listen to the voices of people of African descent and to confront past legacies and deliver redress”.
The High Commissioner’s report collected information on more than 190 cases where people had died in police custody around the world.
It uncovered many similarities and patterns, such as the hurdles families encountered in trying to access justice, according to Peggy Hicks, Director of Thematic Engagement at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“Accountability is crucial and families do have some form of satisfaction in seeing someone in prison for a crime that is as violent as the murder of George Floyd which we saw on video tape.
“But of course, there are so many cases where there isn’t a video tape and there are even cases where there are video tapes but justice is not being dealt in those cases,” she said.

Across numerous countries, notably in North and South America and in Europe, people of African descent disproportionately live in poverty and face serious barriers.
They face serious barriers in accessing education, healthcare, employment, housing and clean water, as well as to political participation and other fundamental human rights, the report maintained.
These obstacles to fulfilling basic human rights contributed to a tradition of discrimination linked directly to colonialism and slave trading which resulted in the “dehumanisation” of people of African descent, according to the report.
“We realised that a main part of the problem is that many people believe the misconceptions that the abolition of slavery, the end of the transatlantic trade and colonialism have removed the racially discriminatory structures built by those practices but we found that this is not true,” said UN Human Rights Office’s Mona Rishmawi, Chief, Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch.
As a result, countries have not paid adequate attention to the negative impact of policies on minority populations and the “conscious and unconscious bias” associated with it, the OHCHR officer insisted.
For people of African descent, these legacy impacts are “a part of their daily life and the daily reality of dehumanisation, marginalisation and denial of their rights”.
The High Commissioner’s report was set in motion by the Human Rights Council after international outrage at the killing of United States citizen George Floyd in 2020.
His death was caused by police officer Derek Chauvin who was captured on video kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
After a six-week trial this year, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced last week to prison for more than two decades.

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Zuma Bags 15Months Imprisonment For Contempt Of Court

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South Africa’s constitutional court on Tuesday, sentenced former President Jacob Zuma, to 15 months imprisonment for contempt of court after he failed to appear at a corruption inquiry earlier this year.
Zuma failed to appear at the inquiry led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in February, after which the inquiry’s lawyers approached the constitutional court to seek an order for his imprisonment.
The inquiry is examining allegations of high-level graft during Zuma’s period in power from 2009 to 2018.
Zuma denies wrongdoing and has so far not cooperated.
“Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is sentenced to undergo 15 months’ imprisonment,’’ a constitutional court judge said, reading out the court’s order.
Zuma has to appear before police within five days, the judge added.
A spokesman for Zuma told eNCA television that the former president would issue a statement later, without elaborating.
The allegations against Zuma include that he allowed businessmen close to him – brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta – to plunder state resources and influence policy.
The Guptas, who also deny wrongdoing left South Africa after Zuma was ousted in a move orchestrated by allies of his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa has been trying to restore investor confidence in Africa’s most industrialised nation.
However, he has faced opposition from a faction within the governing African National Congress party that is still loyal to Zuma.

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Terrorist Threats Continue To Persist, UN Chief Warns

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United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres says in spite of important advances to fight terrorism across the world, the threats have continued  to persist and diversity.
Guterres told the Second High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism on Monday at UN headquarters, New York that the fight against terrorism had caused damage by exploiting social grievances and gender stereotypes.
According to him, “the fight against terrorism has itself caused damage”, inspiring lone actors and co-opting other groups.
Recounting “especially alarming” advances of Al-Qaida and ISIL terrorist fighters in Africa, he upheld the importance of supporting the continent as a global priority.
The top UN Official expressed deep concern over foreign terrorist fighters and underscored the need to hold them accountable.
He also drew attention to the fate of the tens of thousands of relatives, women and children who were associated with them, urging Member States for their repatriation, particularly the children “who remain stranded in conflict zones”.
Amidst some “slow and not comprehensive”/ progress, Guterres said, “the situation is dire”.
At the same time, years of increasing polarisation and a normalisation of hate speech have benefitted terrorist groups.
“The threat stemming from white supremacist…and other ethnically or racially motivated movements is increasingly transnational,” the UN chief said.
In addition, he said terrorist groups were exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We need consistent, coordinated and comprehensive efforts across countries, sectors and disciplines, anchored in human rights and the rule of law.’’
He urged the General Assembly to re-affirm the consensus behind the UN Global Counter-terrorism Strategy to enhance national, regional and international efforts and adopt a forward-looking resolution.
To counter terrorism, the UN chief outlined a set of overarching priorities, which began with building resilience.
“Strong, just and accountable institutions” as reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 16 for inclusive access to justice “are a pre-requisite for States to deny terrorists the space to operate, bring them to justice and provide security to their populations.
While putting victims at the centre of all efforts, he also noted that to help break the cycle of violence, after serving their sentences, those found guilty should, when possible, be rehabilitated and reintegrated back into society.
The secretary-general’s second point was for a human-right reset for counter-terrorism.
“We know that when counter-terrorism is used to infringe upon the rights and freedoms of people, the result is more alienation within communities and stronger terrorist narratives,’’ the UN chief said.
He stressed that this must be addressed by protecting and promoting human rights, including gender equality.
He also highlighted that misogyny, and women’s and girls’ subjugation, is “a common element” of terrorist networks, which requires “pluralist and independent civic space” to counter it.
According to the UN chief, counter-terrorism must rise to the challenges and opportunities of transformative technologies.

“To this end, technological innovation must be nurtured while mitigating its risks.
“New technologies need to be harnessed responsibly for counter-terrorism, within the framework of the rule of law and human rights,” he said.
Highlighting that social media is being used to accelerate hate speech and violent ideologies, he pointed out that since the pandemic, there has also been a spike in cyberattacks and cybercrime.
“As capabilities and actions have not kept pace with risks, Member States have the ultimate responsibility to prevent technologies from falling into terrorist hands,’’ he said.
The head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT), Vladimir Voronkov spoke about terrorist challenges in an age of transformative technologies.
“We need urgently to look ahead on how to adjust our counter-terrorism efforts to respond to new realities and emerging threats,” Voronkov told the meeting.
As digitally-enabled technologies transform societies and economies, they present both opportunities and risks.
“We have the means and…responsibility to work together to ensure safe and effective use of technology and prevent its use for terrorist purposes,” the OCT chief said.
General Assembly President, Volkan Bozkýr noted that the initial hope was that the Covid-19 pandemic would deter terrorist groups and lockdowns restrict their movements.
“It seems that terrorist groups have quickly adapted to this new landscape”.
He called for global solidarity against the rise of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, stressing: “we must be vigilant, and stop hate speech, when it is first uttered – both in person, and online.
“That is an individual, collective, national, and international responsibility”.

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