News in Brief 07 December 2016 (AM)

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A view of the Palais des Nations, seat of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Concerns persist over Sri Lanka torture allegations

In Sri Lanka, reports persist that torture remains "a common practice" in police investigations, UN experts warned on Wednesday.

Meeting in Geneva, the UN Committee Against Torture said it remained "seriously concerned" at the allegations along with many other potential violations committed by state actors.

These include so-called "white van" abductions and the rape of women and men suspected of having even remote links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a separatist group involved in a 26-year uprising that ended in 2009.

While Sri Lanka maintains that no secret torture camps exist, the UN committee said it regretted the country's failure to clarify whether it had investigated recent allegations.

Continuation of political mediation in DRC welcomed

The continuation of political mediation talks carried out by the Roman Catholic church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been welcomed by the UN Secretary-General.

The Conférence épiscopale des églises du Congo, known as CENCO, has been mediating between the government, its supporters and a coalition of opposition groups.

CENCO is hoping to facilitate an agreement which will reduce the chances of unrest on the last day of the president's term on December 18.

Delayed elections are not due to take place until April next day

The UN chief, Ban Ki-moon said it was important "to pursue, in earnest, this Congolese-owned process" in order to reach a "consensual and peaceful solution to the current impasse."

International Asteroid Day proclaimed by UN

An international day to raise public awareness about the potential threat of asteroids has been announced by the United Nations.

International Asteroid Day will be observed globally on 30 June every year, beginning in 2017.

The date commemorates the anniversary of the Tunguska asteroid impact over Siberia, in the Russian Federation, on 30 June 1908.

The day has been backed by the Association of Space Explorers and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) which will use the commemoration to publicize global research into asteroids.

Priyanka Shankar, United Nations

Duration: 2’41″

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