News in Brief 26 October 2015 (PM)

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Mark Garten

UN at the ready, following Afghan earthquake

United Nations agencies are mobilizing and are ready to support Afghanistan and Pakistan in the wake of an earthquake, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said.

The magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck Badakshan province in the far northeast of Afghanistan on Monday, with shocks being felt in the capital, Kabul, and even in Pakistan and India, according to the Red Cross.

The UN chief said although reports are still coming in, it was clear that there had been loss of life as well as serious damage in both countries.

Mr Ban has also sent his deepest condolences to their people and governments, and to all affected, particularly those who have lost family members.

Civil society a vital partner in counter-terrorism, says human rights expert

A human rights expert has expressed alarm over what he sees as a growing trend by governments to restrict civil society groups on the pretext of national security and counter-terrorism.

Over the past three years, more than 60 states have proposed or passed laws to restrict freedom of assembly or prohibit foreign funding of civil society organizations, according to UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson.

He said NGOs must be recognized as "indispensable partners" in counter-terrorism initiatives.

Mr Emmerson also urged countries to, in his words, "back off and let lawful public interest organisations get on with the vitally important work they do."

Iraq: More action required to prevent "honour killings"

The recent murder of a young woman in Iraq, allegedly by members of her own family, has been condemned by the UN mission in the country, UNAMI.

The mission said perpetrators of such "honour killings" must be held accountable according to the law.

Francisco Motta, head of the UNAMI's human rights office, was encouraged that an arrest warrant has been issued by the police in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where the incident took place.

However, he added that more must be done to address cultural attitudes that regard violence against family members, particularly women, as justifiable on the basis of what he characterized as "so-called honour."

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’15″

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