News in Brief 10 May 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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The UN Human Rights Office’s Rupert Colville said High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had appealed to Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani for a moratorium on executions. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Death penalty appeal to Afghanistan after prisoner executions

The execution of six prisoners in Afghanistan has been condemned by the UN's human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein amid reports that torture is used to extract confessions there.

In an appeal for legal reform and a halt to the death penalty, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said there are "persisting serious concerns" that trials are not conducted fairly in Afghanistan.

Here's Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR):

"We regret the execution on Sunday 8 May, of six people in Afghanistan, amid persisting serious concerns about compliance with fair trial standards, and reports about the widespread use of torture and ill-treatment as a means of extracting confessions. We fear that there could be more executions in the near future."

The UN Human Rights Office said it understood the "increasing security challenges" in Afghanistan, which continues to face attacks by extremists, and growing public pressure to reduce the violence.

Concern over shooting of Syria refugee at Slovakia border

To Slovakia now, where the shooting of a Syrian woman by border guards has been condemned by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

According to reports, the 25-year-old victim was travelling in a car that ignored an order to stop by customs officials before they opened fire on Monday.

UNHCR's William Spindler said that the woman was shot in the back and is now recovering after surgery in a Slovakian hospital.

"Apparently four cars carrying 11 refugees or migrants were stopped at the border by customs police, and one of the cars tried to drive on, and an officer fired shots, first they shot warning shots, then when the car did not stop they aimed for the tyres but unfortunately they hit a Syrian women in the back… the point is that with the situation and governments and countries trying to tighten borders, it's unfortunate that people who are fleeing war and violence are often victimised in this way."

Health agency "confident" that Brazil has Zika threat under control

And finally to Brazil, where the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that it's "confident" the authorities are doing all they can to reduce the threat from the Zika virus.

The announcement by the UN health agency comes just 11 weeks from the start of the Olympic Games in the South American country.

To date the disease – which is carried, or vectored, by the Aedes mosquito – has been associated with more than 1,200 cases of microcephaly in Brazil.

Here's WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier:

"Effective vector control is what is most important and we're pretty confident that authorities in Brazil together with the International Olympic Committee are getting vector control on the ground, under control."

WHO also stressed that "every individual traveller" who visits the summer games should protect themselves as they would against other mosquito-born diseases such as malaria, by using nets, screens and sprays.

Pregnant women are advised to seek medical advice before travelling to Brazil, while those returning from the country should practise safe sex for four to six weeks if they think they've been bitten by a mosquito there.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’04″


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