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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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Key Suspect In Haitian President’s Murder Extradited To US

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Rodolphe Jaar, a key suspect in the murder of former Haitian President Jovenel Moise, was yesterday extradited to the United States from the Dominican Republic, media reported.
Earlier, media reported that Jaar, a Haitian businessman and convicted drug trafficker, was arrested in the Dominican Republic.
On Wednesday, the suspect was detained by United States federal agents in Miami upon his arrival from the Dominican Republic, the Miami Herald newspaper reported.
Moise was shot dead at his residence on July 7, 2021, while his wife sustained injuries and subsequently received medical treatment in the United States.
Haitian authorities have detained over 40 suspects in Moise’s assassination, including 18 Colombian citizens and five United States citizens.

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Otto Warmbier’s Family Awarded $240,000

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The family of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in North Korea for 17 months and died in 2017 shortly after being returned to the United States in a coma, was awarded more than $240,000 in seized assets from Pyongyang, a New York federal court ruled.
Why it matters: The payment is part of a $500 million wrongful death lawsuit, in which Warmbier’s family alleged that North Korea took him hostage, tortured him and was responsible for his death.
Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student at the time, travelled to North Korea in 2015, where he was arrested and accused of stealing a propaganda poster from a restricted area of his hotel.
After publicly confessing to the crime with a script that some experts have said was likely drafted by North Korean officials, Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
After a total of 17 months in captivity, he was flown back to the United States on June 13 with severe brain damage that North Korea attributed, without evidence, to botulism, and he died six days later in a Cincinnati hospital.
A federal judge in December, 2018 ruled that North Korea was responsible for Warmbier’s death and ordered Pyongyang to pay his family $500 million.
The big picture: The $240,000 awarded by the Northern District Court of New York last week was seized from the country’s Korea Kwangson Banking Corp after the government and bank did not respond to multiple court orders and notices.

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‘Why Schumer Picked A Filibuster Fight He Couldn’t Win’

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Chuck Schumer doesn’t typically lead his caucus into losing votes that divide Democrats. He made an exception for election reform.
The Senate majority leader has run a 50-50 Senate for a year now, longer than anyone else. The whole time, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have consistently communicated to Schumer that he wouldn’t get their votes to weaken the filibuster, no matter the underlying issue. But his decision to force the vote on the caucus anyway – and get 48 Democrats on the record for a unilateral rules change dubbed “the nuclear option” – will go down as one of Schumer’s riskiest moves as leader.
The New Yorker was a defender and wielder of the filibuster while serving as minority leader during Donald Trump’s presidency. But Democrats’ year of work on writing elections and voting legislation – and GOP opposition to an effort designed to undo state-level ballot restrictions – turned Schumer into a proponent of scrapping the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, at least for this bill.
He and most of his members have endorsed what they see as a limited change to chamber rules. Even so, Schumer has set the table for a future majority with a slightly bigger margin, whether it’s Democratic or Republican, to follow through where he fell short and perhaps go further.
Schumer gave Manchin months of space to work on a compromise elections bill, despite activists pushing him to move quicker. The leader’s insistence on a vote that will split his caucus has only trained more ire on the West Virginian and Sinema of Arizona, whom he needs to execute the rest of President Joe Biden’s agenda. Yet Schumer says he had no choice.
“We sent our best emissary to talk to the Republicans. That was Joe Manchin. And we gave him months,” Schumer said in an interview on Wednesday. “The epiphany that occurred on a rules change? He didn’t even get any bites.”
Though social spending, coronavirus relief and infrastructure have at times consumed the Senate this Congress, no topic has riveted Democrats like voting and election reform. Schumer designed Democrats’ first version of the bill “S. 1” – denoting it as the party’s top priority. Even when senators were digging into other legislation, Schumer was still maneuvering on elections, convening weekly meetings with a small group of senators for months.

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